This week Employment Minister Jason Kenney replaced the old LMOA, Labour Market Opinion Assessment, with the brand new LMIA, or Labour Market Impact Assessment - henceforth to be known as the LabourMinister Missing in Action program for its accelerated 10- working- day approval process to put TFWs in skilled trades.
Remember those 270 unionized welders and pipefitters laid off a Husky Sunrise tarsands project last October and replaced by temporary foreign workers?
As one of the former workers explained :
"We had to conduct a handover to Saipem, detailing to them where we had stopped work so that they may continue. In the final week, Saipem foreign workers were actually in the facility working side by side with us ..."And that happened because under the old LMOA, the federal government had an agreement with Alberta to exempt welders, heavy-duty mechanics and iron workers from the rules about having to ensure Canadian applicants got first crack at those jobs.
So how is Jason Kenney's new LabourMin Missing in Action program going to work?
Ok, bear with me here.
In April this year, the Canadian Welding Bureau or CWB, the Canadian welding certification and registration org, put out an unusual presser/disclaimer :
CWB defines position on temporary foreign workers
"There have recently been publicized reports that the Canadian Welding Bureau (CWB) is recruiting Filipino welders to fill welding jobs here in Canada, and in particular, to fill vacancies in the BC shipbuilding industry. These statements are incorrect. For the record, the CWB is not in the business of recruiting welders, either from the Philippines or elsewhere, or involved in any job placement schemes, contracts or agreements to enter Canada."The presser goes on to explain that while the CWB has operations in the Philippines and 35 other countries, its mandate is to ensure the safety of Canadians and yada yada yada.
The CWB was responding to news stories in the Philippine press that the CWB was indeed doing exactly what its disclaimer denies :
More jobs for Pinoy welders in Canada and Canada wants more Pinoy skilled workers
"British Columbia is on the hunt for Filipino welders and pipe-fitters as it anticipates a shortage of such skilled workers to build 10 new non-combat ships for the Canadian Coast Guard.Anticipating a possible shortage of qualified tradesmen, the Canadian Welding Bureau has accredited test centers in the Philippines to screen well-trained welders, reports ABS-CBN news.
“The welders that we are training in Canada right now are not sufficient to fill that vacuum that’s why the Canadian government is looking of hiring temporary workers from outside, and right now, the Philippines is a very favorable place to hire the welders,” said Bob Montes, certification services representative of the Canadian Welding Bureau.
Montes added that welders will also be in big demand when construction for the pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia begins."And Bingo! - TFW welders for the Northern Gateway pipeline -- you know, to fill all those jobs Steve keeps promising us the pipeline will provide for Canadians - hence the new 10-working-day accelerated approval process for skilled workers..
"Currently, there are only three centers that are accredited by the Canadian Welding Bureau : Brilliant Metal Works, Zoie Training Center and Primary Structures Educational Foundation, all based in Cebu, Phillipines.Those who pass the test here will get a welding card that is valid anywhere in Canada.With these developments, the Philippine Labor Office is confident that Canada will continue to hire more temporary foreign workers despite charges that the program is stealing jobs away from Canadians."Canadian Welding Bureau (CWB) takes Cebu City by storm - August 2012
"A total of 120 students made it to the cut-off for the first batch of the Canadian Welding Bureau welding class ... with no less than the Canadian Consul to the Philippines Consul Robert Lee gracing the opening ceremony.
"I want to make it my legacy sending world class Filipino welders to Canada before my retirement few years from now. We are proud to be part of this program being the first CWB welding school outside of Canada and the first in the whole world. With this CWB partnership with SKILLS, our people here in the Philippines will experience a world class training inside a welding facility designed using Canadian welding standards.”
The CWB training runs for eight (8) months holding classes five (5) hours daily from Monday to Friday. It is handled by Prof. Stuart Ring, a former teacher and a retired Canadian Pipe Fitter, duly certified by the Canadian Welding Bureau."
The Canadian Consul to the Philippines' words kinda reminds me of the Governor General of Canada, David Johnston, planting a tree at the campus of outsourcing giant Infosys in India in February.
And finally, a CWB presser from Dec 2012Canadian Welding Bureau Applauds New Federal Skilled Trades Program to Assist With Shortage of Welders
Craig Martin, vice president of the Office of Public Safety for the Canadian Welding Bureau (CWB) :
"CWB Group has been working diligently for some time in many countries, pre-qualifying welders so they meet Canadian standards and are job-ready before immigrating to Canada," said Mr. Martin.
"We've developed relationships with training institutions in the Philippines and Suriname so their programs adhere to Canadian standards for training and certification. We have also certified companies and qualified welders from countries extending beyond our borders for several years. A program like this is a proactive step forward because it will further allow more CWB qualified welders to enter the country, provide exceptional craftsmanship and fill the ongoing shortage."
So is there any actual "ongoing shortage" of welders?
Let's go to Service Canada, bearing in mind the Alberta Federation of Labour says the feds rely on self-reporting industry surveys for their labour shortage stats ...
"The labour pool may vary considerably depending on the requirements for the position. That explains why this occupation has high unemployment but also a labour shortage.
In the positions that require a lower level of skill, such as unskilled positions as welders or related machine operators, the labour pool consists of experienced metallurgical workers who have received in-house training. This group includes welder/fitter helpers (see 9612, labourers in metal fabrication) and the many experienced unemployed welders and welder helpers.
Incidentally, this is the labour pool with the highest unemployment."