Alberta: Where good help is hard to keep

English: The National Institute for Nanotechno...
English: The National Institute for Nanotechnology on the north campus of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was about a year ago that Jessie Richardson made some life-changing decisions.
She wanted to leave Hamilton, she wanted to discover a new part of Canada and she wanted to make money. So Richardson, 22, left her Ontario hometown and booked a flight to Edmonton.
Adjusting took a bit of time, but she eventually found a good job in the health-care industry, made friends and found her place.
But in May, she came home and decided to go back to school. Her decision to move to Alberta, make some money and then run highlights a pattern Alberta is increasingly seeing — most Canadians who head west don’t stay.
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A recent Statistics Canada study shows that despite the booming energy sector and the lure of good-paying jobs, Alberta is having trouble retaining out-of-province workers — despite the fact that half of those workers are under 35 and most of them are single.
The report looks at interprovincial migration from 2004 to 2009 and found that in 2004, there were approximately 62,000 to 67,500 interprovincial employees in Alberta. By 2008, the number of interprovincial employees had increased to up to 133,000, almost double the 2004 numbers. The majority worked in oil and gas extraction or construction.
But many migrants can’t quite commit. The overwhelming majority — from 74 to 87 per cent of people, depending on the year — never planted permanent roots in Alberta.
The question is why, and what kind of impact will it have in the long term.
The StatsCan report identifies several factors that keep people from settling down, including “family ties, social networks, organizational arrangements (e.g. daycare, school enrolment), home ownership, and quality of life.”
Kevin McQuillan, sociology professor at the University of Calgary, says people working in the resource areas in the northern part of the province don’t see the area as a place to settle down — they see it as a place to make money.
In many cases, he said, workers aren’t getting much exposure to Calgary, Edmonton and other cities, where they’d be more likely to move permanently.
McQuillan added that the rapid population growth — via immigration and a high birth rate — is probably enough to dull the sting of losing workers who return to their home provinces.
“I think there’s a comfort with the level of growth in the province right now,” he said.
“But I do think it does raise some questions about the ability of the province, longer term, to retain skilled workers. I think that’s going to be an important issue,” he said, noting out-of-province workers don’t pay provincial income taxes to Alberta.
Aaron Toth, a sheet metal worker from Chateauguay, Que., has been commuting to northern Alberta for six years. He works 21 days in a row and 12 hours a day before taking a week off. That gruelling lifestyle earns him $180,000 a year.
But life up in the work camps can be rough — many colleagues have a hard time being away from their families and cope by using drugs and alcohol, he said.
Toth, 29, said it wasn’t easy keeping up a long-distance relationship while working out of the province. He and his girlfriend recently broke up, but he’s still not looking to leave Quebec.
He said Alberta’s big cities don’t compare to Montreal, the nearest big city to his hometown.
His boss, Matthew Verhoek, has a decidedly different opinion of the province — he loves it.
Verhoek’s father moved his family from northern Manitoba to Red Deer, Alta. for a job making module pipe racks destined for Fort McMurray when Verhoek was 16. Now 31, he said he’s never thought about leaving Alberta.
But when asked if he wants to stay up north for the foreseeable future, his answer is less emphatic.
“There’s always that hope that you’ll get a good paying job at home, but you look around and see all the 40-, 50-, 60-year-old guys that have been hoping now for 30 years, and you don’t get your hopes up.”
The province of Alberta says it is focusing on those who are staying, and points out that its population has grown by 500,000 over the last five years.
Alberta expects to have a population of 4 million by the end of the year, said Darrell Winwood, spokesman for Alberta’s ministry of enterprise and advanced education.
“We feel quite confident that we’re attracting people, we’re looking to add to our labour force, our workforce, and that people are coming here for the opportunities,” Winwood said.
Lars Osberg, the McCulloch professor of economics at Dalhousie University, said there are a lot of benefits to having temporary workers because they aren’t a drain on the system.
The two government services that people tend to use most are the health-care system and school system — services that people use in their home provinces, Osberg said.
If they’re travelling back and forth, it likely means their kids are in schools in their home provinces, and they’re keeping their out of province health cards, he said. So even if they require treatment in Alberta, it will likely be billed back to the government of wherever they’re from.
Richardson, the Hamilton woman, considered going to Fort McMurray, the epicentre of the energy boom. But she eventually decided the city wasn’t for her before settling down in Edmonton.
Richardson said she also found many of her peers in Alberta were blinded by the promise of higher wages and didn’t realize they would, in some cases, work longer and more hours than they used to. She worked in a retail store before landing her health-care job, where she made $20 an hour.
Despite the fact that Alberta didn’t initially live up to her expectations, said she enjoyed herself there and hasn’t ruled out a return to Edmonton someday.
Her experience, she added, taught her that working long hours made no sense if she wasn’t invested her job, and “that no matter how much money I was earning, I had to do what I love. You have to follow your passion.”
By the numbers
133,000: Approx number of interprovincial employees in Alberta in 2008
$186,782: The median family income in Fort McMurray, the highest income in Canada
22,777: Number of Ontarians who worked in Alberta in 2008, 2.5 times more than in 2004
32,166: Number of Atlantic Canadians who worked in Alberta in 2008, four times more than in 2004
Source: Statistics Canada
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Canada makes visa application process easier for some Caribbean nationals.

English: View of the International Financial C...
English: View of the International Financial Centre near the Port of Port-of-Spain in the Gulf of Paria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

OTTAWA, Canada– The Government of Canada has announced the opening of a new visa application centre (VAC) in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, making the process of applying for a visa to enter Canada “easier and more convenient.”
 The Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has announced plans to expand its VAC network around the world to provide administrative support to applicants before, during and after their temporary resident application is assessed by a CIC immigration officer.
According to a release ,VAC service agents are available by phone, email or in person to answer questions in local languages and to make sure that applications are complete.
“It is important to note that VACs are not involved in the decision-making process and are not authorized to provide applicants with advice about their visas,” the statement said.
“Applications received through the VAC or online are processed on a priority basis and are typically finalized in half the amount of time of other applications,” it added.
The Government of Canada said it plans to create new jobs and stimulate economic growth by attracting an increasing number of visitors and international students, as well as skilled temporary foreign workers and immigrants that “best respond to current and future labor market needs.
“For this reason, CIC strives to issue visas and permits as quickly as possible to facilitate travel to Canada,” the statement said.
The latest announcement comes as Canada has imposed new travel requirements for nationals from two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries.
In Jamaica, the Canadian High Commission said  new regulations, enforced by CIC which took effect last week,would affect nationals from Jamaica and Haiti wanting to visit, work or study in the North American country.
The High Commission said that nationals from these two CARICOM countries will be required to give fingerprints and photographic data when they apply for visas and permits.
Last year, Canada imposed new travel requirements on nationals from St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines on the grounds of unreliable travel documents.
CIS said the changes would allow it and its partners “to ensure that those seeking to visit Canada intend to return to their country of origin, rather than overstaying or committing other immigration violations.”
The new measures were criticized by the governments of the two CARICOM countries, with St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves dispatching a four-page letter to his Canadian counterpart, Stephen Harper.
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Cap for the Federal Skilled Worker Program- Update

The Centre Block on Parliament Hill, containin...
The Centre Block on Parliament Hill, containing the houses of the Canadian parliament (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As of May 4, 2013, Citizenship and Immigration Canada will only consider federal skilled worker (FSW) applications from people who have:
  • at least one year of continuous and paid (full-time or an equal amount in part-time) work experience in a single occupation,
  • within the last 10 years,
  • at skill type 0, or skill levels A or B of the 2011 edition of the Canadian National Occupational Classification (NOC), and who are:
1. in one of the 24 eligible occupations,
and whose application is received under the occupation’s sub-cap and overall FSW cap, or
2. with a valid offer of arranged employmentor
3. who are applying under the PhD stream (see below) until the PhD cap of 1,000 applications is reached.
All applicants must also:
  • meet the minimum language threshold (and submit approved language test results), and
  • submit a Canadian educational credential or foreign credential and an assessment of their foreign education from an approved agency, and
  • meet all requirements of the FSW Program.

Applications per eligible occupation:

The cap year began on May 4, 2013, and will end on April 30, 2014, unless otherwise stated by the Minister.Between May 4, 2013, and April 30, 2014, we will consider no more than 5,000 complete FSW applications for processing. Within the 5,000 cap, we will consider no more than 300 applications per eligible occupation for processing within this same time frame.

Note: Due to the large number of applications we get, we cannot check that each one is complete on the same day it gets to the office. The numbers on this page are updated at least once a week, but are only a guide. There is no guarantee that an application sent in now will fall within the cap by the time it gets to the Centralized Intake Office.

Total received toward the overall cap: 1,392 of 5,000
Eligible occupation

(by National Occupational Classification [NOC] code)
Number of complete applications counted towards the 300 sub-cap 
0211   Engineering managers127
1112   Financial and investment analysts
300 (Cap reached)
2113   Geoscientists and oceanographers8
2131   Civil engineers78
2132   Mechanical engineers93
2134   Chemical engineers38
2143   Mining engineers1
2145   Petroleum engineers1
2144   Geological engineers11
2146   Aerospace engineers5
2147   Computer engineers (except software engineers/designers)179
2154   Land surveyors2
2174   Computer programmers and interactive media developers 
300 (Cap reached)
2243   Industrial instrument technicians and mechanics13
2263   Inspectors in public and environmental health and occupational health and safety56
3141   Audiologists and speech-language pathologists2
3142   Physiotherapists68
3143   Occupational Therapists11
3211   Medical laboratory technologists65
3212   Medical laboratory technicians and pathologists' assistants15
3214   Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists2
3215   Medical Radiation Technologists12
3216   Medical Sonographers6
3217   Cardiology technologists and electrophysiological diagnostic technologists6

Applications in the PhD stream:

CIC will accept 1,000 applications for processing per year under the PhD stream. To apply under this stream, you must have either
  • finished at least two years of study in Canada towards a PhD, or
  • graduated from a Canadian PhD program in the 12 months before we get your application.
Find out more about eligibility for this category.
The new PhD cap year began on May 4, 2013, and will end on April 30, 2014, unless otherwise stated by the Minister.


Footnote 1
The number of complete federal skilled worker applications received as of May 4, 2013 is an estimate.
Footnote 2
Once we reach the cap, we can only accept applications under this occupation from people with a valid job offer in place.
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Professions Covered by NAFTA

The following professions are covered by Appendix 1603.D.1 of the North American Free Trade Agreement. For more information on obtaining a TN Visa, please consult the relevant section of this website.

Profession1Minimum Education Requirements or Alternative Credentials
AccountantBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or C.P.A., C.A., C.G.A. or C.M.A.
ArchitectBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license2
Computer Systems AnalystBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma3 or Post-Secondary Certificate4, and three years experience
Disaster Relief Insurance Claims Adjuster (claims Adjuster employed by an insurance company located in the territory of a Party, or an independent claims adjuster)Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree, and successful completion of training in the appropriate areas of insurance adjustment pertaining to disaster relief claims; or three years experience in claims adjustment and successful completion of training in the appropriate areas of insurance adjustment pertaining to disaster relief claims
EconomistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
EngineerBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license
ForesterBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license
Graphic DesignerBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience
Hotel ManagerBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree in hotel/restaurant management; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate in hotel/restaurant management, and three years experience in hotel/restaurant management
Industrial DesignerBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience
Interior DesignerBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience
Land SurveyorBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial/federal license
Landscape ArchitectBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Lawyer (including Notary in the Province of Quebec)LL.B., J.D., LL.L., B.C.L. or Licenciatura Degree (five years); or membership in a state/provincial bar
LibrarianM.L.S. or B.L.S. (for which another Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree was a prerequisite)
Management ConsultantBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or equivalent professional experience as established by statement or professional credential attesting to five years experience as a management consultant, or five years experience in a field of specialty related to the consulting agreement
Mathematician (including Statistician)Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Range Manager/Range ConservationalistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Research Assistant (working in a post-secondary educational institution)Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Scientific Technician/Technologist5Possession of:
(a) a theoretical knowledge of any of the following disciplines: agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology or physics; and
(b) the ability to solve practical problems in any of those disciplines, or the ability to apply principles of any of those disciplines to basic or applied research
Social WorkerBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Sylviculturist (including Forestry Specialist)Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Technical Publications WriterBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience
Urban Planner (including Geographer)Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Vocational CounsellorBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Medical/Allied Professional
DentistD.D.S., D.M.D., Doctor en Odontologia or Doctor en Cirugia Dental; or state/provincial license
DietitianBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license
Medical Laboratory Technologist (Canada)/Medical Technologist (Mexico and the United States)6Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience
NutritionistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Occupational TherapistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license
PharmacistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license
Physician (teaching or research only)M.D. or Doctor en Medicina; or state/provincial license
Physiotherapist/Physical TherapistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license
PsychologistState/provincial license; or Licenciatura Degree
Recreational TherapistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Registered NurseState/provincial license; or Licenciatura Degree
VeterinarianD.V.M., D.M.V. or Doctor en Veterinaria; or state/provincial license

Agriculturist (including Agronomist)Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Animal BreederBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Animal ScientistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
ApiculturistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
AstronomerBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
BiochemistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
BiologistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
ChemistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Dairy ScientistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
EntomologistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
EpidemiologistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
GeneticistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
GeologistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
GeochemistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Geophysicist (including Oceanographer in Mexico and the United States)Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
HorticulturistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
MeteorologistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
PharmacologistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Physicist (including Oceanographer in Canada)Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Plant BreederBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Poultry ScientistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Soil ScientistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
ZoologistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

CollegeBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
SeminaryBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
UniversityBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
1. A business person seeking temporary entry under this Appendix may also perform training functions relating to the profession, including conducting seminars.
2. "State/provincial license" and "state/provincial/federal license" mean any document issued by a state, provincial or federal government, as the case may be, or under its authority, but not by a local government, that permits a person to engage in a regulated activity or profession.
3. "Post-Secondary Diploma" means a credential issued, on completion of two or more years of post-secondary education, by an accredited academic institution in Canada or the United States.
4. "Post-Secondary Certificate" means a certificate issued, on completion of two or more years of post-secondary education at an academic institution, by the federal government of Mexico or a state government in Mexico, an academic institution recognized by the federal government or a state government, or an academic institution created by federal or state law.
5. A business person in this category must be seeking temporary entry to work in direct support of professionals in agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology or physics.
6. A business person in this category must be seeking temporary entry to perform in a laboratory chemical, biological, hematological, immunologic, microscopic or bacteriological tests and analyses for diagnosis, treatment or prevention of disease.
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