As part of the UCP government’s economic recovery plan, large sections of the temporary foreign worker (TFW) program have been suspended until spring 2021.

The move is meant to encourage unemployed Albertans to fill vacant positions instead of overseas workers.

According to Parliamentary Secretary of Immigration Muhammad Yaseen, travel restrictions following the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the high unemployment rate in Alberta are the two main factors for the suspension. The latest jobs numbers from Statistics Canada reveal that more than 365,000 Albertans are unemployed.

Exemptions to the suspension include caregiving, emergency response, hospitality in mountain parks, and agriculture.

“These are temporary restrictions,” Yaseen says, “many sectors are exempt, and if things improve we could change it.”Current temporary foreign workers have the ability to apply for the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP). The AINP is an economic immigration program that allows immigrants to apply for permanent residence in Alberta.

“It’s not that we’re stopping it completely,” Yaseen explains. “As economic conditions get better we will open everything up again.”

Andy Mahilom, president of the Phil-Can Tennis Association sees no reason for Filipinos in Alberta to be worried.

“The TFW program helps a lot of Filipinos, and suspending the program is okay because of the pandemic,” Mahilom said. “Hopefully they return back and a lot of Filipinos will return to work in Canada.”

If conditions improve in Alberta, the TFW program could go back to normal sooner. However, restrictions may remain in place if they do not.

However, Yaseen remains hopeful.

“Despite the fact that these are temporary restrictions, certain categories are exempt and it could only be for 12 months,” Yaseen says.

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