Foreign workers spark debate about labour shortage

All eyes are on Fort McMurray, Alta., and the battle raging over labour in the oilsands
By Todd Humber
|CHRR, Report on Recruitment & Staffing|Last Updated: 05/24/2005

When the federal government greenlighted a plan to import 680 skilled foreign workers to help in Alberta’s booming oilsands construction projects, it ignited a firestorm among labour groups and sparked a debate about whether or not there is a shortage of skilled labour.

Unions are adamant there is no shortage, while some employers charge they can’t find enough qualified workers.

“There is not a shortage of skilled workers, but there is a tight market,” said Gil McGown, director of communications for the Alberta Federation of Labour. “But that’s a significant difference.”