Alberta tourism gets new immigration stream

As people keep flocking to Alberta’s picturesque mountains, the province is struggling to find enough workers to keep the tourism industry afloat. 

What happened: Alberta is opening up a new path to permanent residency specifically for temporary foreign workers in the province’s tourism industry. Chefs, travel guides, and hotel receptionists are among the roles that will be eligible for the program starting in March.

Why it's happening: In smaller Alberta towns, labour pools are drained by the oil and gas industry, which offers better wages compared to jobs in hospitality and tourism. That’s forced businesses to turn to temporary foreign workers as nature-crazed tourists flood the province

  • Some provinces, like Saskatchewan, also have their own immigration policies in place to fill labour shortages for lower-skilled jobs, like trucking and farming.

Yes, but: By tying permanent residency status directly to individual employers, experts say that foreign workers' ability to stay in Canada will become largely dependent on their relationship with their bosses, a one-sided dynamic that can open employees up to all kinds of exploitation.

  • Those who are desperate for a path to residency are also likely to take poor-paying jobs, essentially erasing the business incentive to make the jobs more competitive.

Bottom line: Tourism brought in a record $10.7 billion to Alberta’s economy last year, and with the province pushing to more than double its travel and tourism sector over the next decade, this new stream of workers could help prop up the industry’s long-term outlook.—LA