Though Canada has been less affected by the global economic downturn than the United States and other OECD nations, the national unemployment rate has increased slightly over the past several months. This has prompted Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to review immigration numbers to ensure that there will be enough jobs for newcomers once they arrive. Despite these trends, certain regions in Canada remain hot spots for jobs, where regional employers continue to seek skilled foreign workers to meet chronic labour gaps. Notably, the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba are still experiencing skills shortages and continue to recruit foreign workers to alleviate them.
The January unemployment rates for Saskatchewan and Alberta came in at 4.1 per cent and 4.4 per cent respectfully; both under Alberta Employment and Immigration’s ‘balanced labour market’ rate of 5 per cent. Though these provinces have been impacted by current economic events, economists claim that they have been faring much better than other regions – some saying that the job market in Alberta remains among the best in North America.
Indeed, for many years Alberta has been recruiting foreign workers and Canadians from other regions to try to keep pace with the rapid job creation in the province. The Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) has been very effective at welcoming skilled foreign workers, and is constantly evolving to reflect current conditions. Its Strategic Recruitment Stream for US H1B holders (for which candidates do not need a job offer) has recently been reworked to welcome applicants with experience in new occupations, such as industrial designers, database analysts and web developers.
Alberta’s two major cities, Calgary and Edmonton, recorded very low unemployment rates last month, at 4.1 and 3.8 per cent respectively. The areas of the province with the lowest unemployment rates were the Camrose-Drumheller region at 3.1 per cent and the Medicine Hat-Lethbridge region at 4 per cent.
Skills shortages also persist in Manitoba, where the provincial Immigration Minister is looking to offer jobs to skilled foreign workers in biotechnology, healthcare, information technology, social services, and geothermal energy. Temporary foreign workers in these industries may eventually be able to qualify for fast-track Canadian Permanent Residency under Manitoba’s Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).
For those deciding where to live when immigrating to Canada, the take-home message from this is simple: To maximize your chances for finding work in Canada, keep an open mind and consider choosing a region where unemployment is low and where your particular skills are in high demand.