Monday, May 14, 2012

Sask Chamber of Commerce policies to smooth process for skilled immigrants


Reported by Stephanie Froese
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It’s a complex world for Saskatchewan’s business community when taking into consideration the vast policy resolutions being implemented by the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce (SCC).

Steve McLellan, CEO of the SCC said all of the resolutions voted on at a recent board meeting in Saskatoon carried significant importance.

One policy voted in aims to bring Labour Market Opinion (LMO) processing back to Saskatchewan.

The LMO is a government document that immigrant skilled workers need in order to obtain a working visa. 

A recent decision by the federal government saw the LMO offices move to Vancouver in an efficiency effort for western Canada.  The Vancouver offices now take LMO application from Saskatchewan, Manitoba and BC.

McLellan said that move caught everybody in Saskatchewan by surprise.

“They thought it would be an efficiency move. We’ve disagreed with that and we’ve been very clear with them on that challenge, as have our members and immigration consultants. We need to get that changed. We need local response times,” said McLellan.

McLellan said immigration of skilled workers is front of mind for most business people in Saskatchewan.

Having LMO processing back in Saskatchewan would be more convenient and more approachable for those workers, he said.

“There are individuals, both businesses as well as immigrants, who need to have access to those people and now with it being so far away there’s time zone issues as well there’s telecommunications issues of connecting with them,” said McLellan.

He said the SCC wants to use its influence to try to make the process as slick as possible while maintaining necessary safe guards. He said they are very confident that the LMO processing could come back to Saskatchewan.

Other policy resolutions focusing on the environment that were adopted during the Saskatoon meeting will have a bigger long term impact, said McLellan.

Among the 15 resolutions was a focus on better water management and a recovery strategy for woodland caribou. McLellen said these resolutions may not be well known to the general public but have big interest from environmental groups, the mining organizations. He said a water management strategy currently being worked on by the provincial government is a process the SCC has been very close to.

The federal and provincial political relms have the final say on changes the SCC would like to see implemented but McLellan said they have the mindset that if the SCC does their job right then policy will follow their guidelines.

“We go into each of the policy sessions with the belief that if we do our research correctly and we consult our members and the experts in the fields that we will have an awful lot of influence simply because it’s the best thinking on the particular issue,” said McLellan.