Alberta Oil Patch Labour Shortage May Mean More Immigration Opportunities

By Andy Semotiuk | January 3, 2012

Andy Semotiuk

The Globe and Mail recently ran an article entitled Oil Patch Pushes for Immigration Change. The article describes how the booming energy sector in western Canada is leading to a labour shortage which immigration may be able to fill.

Here is a quick Q & A on the issue with immigration lawyer Andy Semotiuk.

Andy, how can an out-of-work person from the US energy sector take advantage of the labour shortage in Alberta?

Any engineer, any architect, any person working in a professional capacity such as computer systems analysts and the like, can immediately come up to Canada to work with a job offer from the oil patch in Alberta in hand. We can get such a person a work permit at the Canadian border.

Persons who do not have professional qualifications but who work in the trades can obtain work permits if they are offered a job by a Canadian company, although it will take a couple of months because the offer has to be approved by Service Canada. The company needs to provide a Labour Market Opinion that there is no Canadian worker ready, willing and able to take the job before Canada Citizenship and Immigration will issue the work permit.

Do you think the Canadian government will change any immigration rules in order to deal with the shortage?

The Canadian government is looking into loosening up the rules to enable qualified American workers to come up to Canada. One way this could be done is to blanket certify the various occupations in short supply in Alberta so that there is no need to apply for a Labour Market Opinion before getting a work permit. Possible new opportunities may arise out of the recently concluded Security Perimeter agreement between Canada and the United States. We must await further developments in this regard.

How long does it take for a qualified person to receive papers that will get them into the country and working again?

As mentioned previously, for a qualified professional, there is no waiting line – he or she can start work the day they enter Canada. As for other occupations in short supply, the normal waiting period is about three to four months although there may be circumstances where approvals can be expedited due to urgent need.