The moratorium on temporary foreign workers has resulted in hundreds of vacant jobs in the tourist town of Jasper.
With the busy summer tourist season right approaching, some businesses are taking drastic action.
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Kim Stark owns a coffee shop in Jasper and she decided to offer a reward of $500 for anyone who can find her new employees.
“I’m at my wits end,” she said. “If you’re the business owner and it doesn’t get done, you can’t pay rent. You can’t pay your bills.”
The federal government imposed a moratorium on the use of temporary foreign workers in the fast food industry in April.
There are hundreds of thousands of temporary foreign workers employed across the country, many of them in Alberta, which suffers from a labour shortage particularly in the restaurant and fast food industries.
Jasper businesses face labour shortage
Jasper Chamber of Commerce general manager Pattie Pavlov says there are more than 300 vacant positions in the town of 5,000 people. She says temporary foreign workers are needed to serve the thousands of tourists that will visit Jasper throughout the summer.
“The TFW program is an integral part of that several pronged approach to dealing with a labour shortage period,” said Pavlov.
Kyle Fawcett, Alberta’s labour minister, is pushing the federal government for more control over the Temporary Foreign Workers program.
“Our push particularly with this moratorium is to have that lifted as soon as possible so these businesses can get back on.”
The changes in federal policy worry workers in Jasper like Isis Valerio. The Dominican Republic native is not a temporary foreign worker, but her work permit expires soon and her permanent residency application is not yet completed.
“Hopefully I will stay longer,” she said. “Every day the immigration situation is changing.”
There are often days in the coffee shop when Stark’s entire staff is made of temporary foreign workers. She said they have become like a family.
“I need them and I think they need me,” she said. “We have a great relationship.”
“All the time they worry about you,” said Valerio. “It’s not just work, it’s a family.”