Provincial Politics: We’ll make it easier for immigrants, says premier

by Ashley Ford

B.C. is working on a new immigration initiative it hopes will ease the passage of future immigrants here and also take care of skilled labour shortages, Premier Gordon Campbell said yesterday.

Speaking to the Coalition of BC Businesses, Campbell said B.C. has a new challenge of finding workers, especially skilled workers in construction, the forest and tourism industries.

He said the government is in early discussions with the federal authorities and says “they appear open to that.”

Campbell said the government will look at plans in other provinces but says he is looking at a province-wide program and not directing workers into any particular geographic region.

He said the province is prepared to take workers from anywhere, provided they have the skills that B.C. needs. Europe, Asia, the U.S., Mexico; it doesn’t matter, he said.

With the economy burbling along there is a growing need for workers in many sectors especially skilled trades and Campbell wants to make their entry smoother and more efficient.

Perhaps with seasonal workers, if they come for three seasons in a row, they could then apply for landed immigrant status, Campbell suggested.

He said there are billions of dollars worth of construction projects on the books and the 2010 Winter Olympics are really only a small project of that.