Family members of most temporary foreign workers in British Columbia will be able to work for any employer in the province, thanks to a pilot project launched recently. The announcement was made by Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney and British Columbia Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, Pat Bell. “Since I became minister, I have heard from workers, employers, labour advocates and others who have asked me to make Canada more welcoming for working families coming to Canada as temporary residents,” said Kenney. “With this pilot project, we will examine the benefits of allowing family members of temporary foreign workers to work while they are here with a principal applicant who has been hired because of his or her skills.”
In general, temporary foreign workers come to Canada to meet the needs of a specific employer who has been unable to find citizens or permanent residents for the available jobs. An open work permit, however, allows the holder to accept any job with any employer.
Previously, only spouses and common-law partners of temporary foreign workers employed in a managerial, professional or skilled trades job have been eligible to obtain an open work permit in British Columbia. Starting August 15, spouses, common-law partners and working-age dependants of most temporary foreign workers will be eligible, including many workers in occupations that require lower levels of formal training.
“More than a million jobs will open up in B.C. by 2020, and we will need foreign workers to help meet the skills shortages our businesses are already beginning to face,” said Bell. “Giving more spouses and working-aged children of temporary foreign workers the chance to take jobs will support local businesses, while contributing to local, regional and provincial economic growth.”
Up to 1,800 open work permits will be available under the pilot project, which will end on February 15, 2013.
“Nearly 32,000 temporary foreign workers made the transition to permanent status in 2010, and of those, almost 2,300 chose to immigrate permanently to B.C.,” Kenney noted.
“We understand the important role that foreign workers have in every region of the country and we will continue to look at ways to attract workers who have the skills we need now and into the future.”
British Columbia’s shared role in immigration was cemented in April 2010 with the signing of the Canada-British Columbia Immigration Agreement.
For more information, visit www.gov.bc.ca/connect.