Alberta recently announced on June 20, 2013, that temporary foreign workers who have been employed within Canada for a minimum of two years are eligible to self-nominate themselves for the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program. This change extends to high-skilled and low-skilled workers; however, only employees within the food and beverage processing, hotel and lodging (specifically food and beverage servers, room attendants, and front desk agent/clerks), manufacturing, trucking, and food services industries are eligible for the program.
This action brings Alberta to the forefront in extending citizenship to temporary foreign workers, as federally, only high-skilled workers and live-in caretakers qualify for Canadian citizenship. Outside of Alberta, low-skilled temporary foreign workers are unable to obtain permanent residency. They face high restrictions with receive little stability: at the end of every work cycle they must return back to their home country without a guarantee of future employment should they wish to return the next year. They are second-class individuals who work our fields yet have neither human rights protections nor the ability to stay in Canada permanently.
This bill is a positive first step towards recognizing the hard work and tenacity of low-skilled migrant workers within Canada. It also takes strides to address some of Alberta's chronic labour shortages. There are still many ways in which human rights protections for temporary foreign workers is lacking: for example, the two year wait can easily be used as a threat by employers to stop their employees from speaking out about their workplace conditions. Furthermore, this change excludes agricultural workers and other low-skilled workers who are not within the listed eligible industries. However, this is a positive move by Alberta to recognize the contributions that temporary foreign workers who invest their time, labour, and money make to their country.
Congratulations to Alberta on this change, and here's to hoping that we see other provinces follow Alberta's lead.
William Lin owns the Best Convenience store in Toronto.
Lin moved to Canada in 1999 from Gutian county, in the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian.
He had almost 10 years of experience as a mechanical engineer and a bachelor's degree from one of the most prestigious schools in China.
In the points system that Canada uses to determine eligible skilled immigrants, Lin scored above average, and Canada listed his profession as in-demand.
Lin remembers scoring about 10 points in the language category, a low mark for which he was able to compensate with stronger performances in the other sections. The new minimum threshold means an applicant would have to score the equivalent of 16 points even to be considered.
Lin only had one interview, a 10-minute meeting in downtown Toronto for a computer-aided design job. He never got a call back.
Though he knows he is more than qualified to do the work, Lin keeps thinking of all his disadvantages: the fact that he hasn't been practising for a few years, and namely, that he isn't Canadian.
Lin says he would move to China in a second and resume his professional career.
But his family's roots, including two sons, are now planted in Canada.
Lin cares about his son's academic success. His 15-year-old son Andy goes to sea cadet training, and on Sundays, he takes piano lessons, working his way toward Grade 10 certification. Yin works hard so his sons may have jobs that would justify his decision to move to Canada
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