At least one Yellowknife employer is looking outside Canada for a solution to the city's tight labour market — which is exactly what some residents hope for, as they seek jobs for overseas relatives ready to work up North.
If they can't find anyone locally to fill vacant jobs, businesses such as the Tim Hortons in Yellowknife are trying to bring in temporary foreign workers from countrieslike the Philippines.
Already,interested workers — or their Yellowknife-based relatives — have been lining up, coffee shop owner Greg Barton told CBC News.
"We get faxes on a regular basis, you know, [asking] 'Do you need workers from the Philippines? Do you need workers from Saudi Arabia?' We get faxes and e-mails about this all the time," Barton said Wednesday.
"Some people are coming up locally saying, 'I'm an agent, I can get you workers.' "
For about a year, Barton has been applying to bring in 12 to 20 temporary foreign workers on a two-year contract. Some of Barton's first workers were supposed to arrive in Yellowknife on Aug. 1, but a backlog of applicants for the federal government's temporary foreign worker program has delayed the arrival date.
"Unfortunately, we can't just hire anybody. It's just like if we're hiring full-time staff from Yellowknife," he said.
"We're looking for experienced people. The federal government's going to be looking for that, too. They want at least, minimum, two years' experience in the field that these people are looking for a temporary working visa for."
Between agency fees, application fees and travel expenses, it costs about $4,000 to bringa foreign worker to Yellowknife, he said.
AYellowknife resident from the Philippines said shehas relatives who are more than qualified and willing to work.
"We know that they're qualified in terms of being here to work," Marites Vinasoy said.
"We're frustrated that they cannot come because of certain other policies that they have. So I'm trying to build some thoughts in my mind to write the minister and say, you know, they have to change this."
Late last year, Ottawa cut the recruitment wait time for employers in certain sectors, making it two to four weeks faster to hire foreign help when there aren't enough Canadians available to fill positions.
However, the new wait times only apply to employers in Alberta and British Columbia, where labour shortages are most acute.