Local business owners were invited to a seminar to learn the value of the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) at Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce/Lions’ Hall on Tuesday, May 27th.
The PNP allows employers to jointly sponsor foreign workers who wish to seek permanent residency in Canada. By allowing employers to assist foreign workers to become permanent residents, the program is designed to address chronic work shortages.
It can serve as an alternative to the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program, which has been suspended in the food service sector indefinitely since Thursday, April 24th. The TFW program has been regularly utilized in the valley, allowing business owners to sponsor and employ foreign workers for a period up to two years.
Because the suspension of the TFW program has interfered with several local businesses, the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce has reached out to the local MP in an attempt to address the suspension.
“The chamber has written a letter to [Member of Parliament for Kootenay-Columbia] Mr. Wilks, and we’ve had him come here and speak directly to our members in the food industry,” said the chamber’s executive director Susan Clovechok.
Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald said the Temporary Foreign Worker program has a purpose to serve, but allows for abuse and has run amok. Because employees contracted through the TFW program can’t change jobs within Canada, it’s difficult for them to speak out against abuse.
“If a worker has a complaint, they have an obligation to first speak to their employer before the matter can move forward – the outcome for a foreign worker is predictably going to be poor,” said Macdonald.
And while the program is federally run, TFW employers and employees have to abide by provincial labour standards.
“The reasonable thing to do is for people to come in as immigrants,” said Macdonald. “If you want to attract workers, you have to be offering a work environment that is attractive.”
A call to Wilks’ office was not returned by press deadline.