Mount Washington Alpine Resort is feeling the effects of changes made to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), which helps fill labour shortages when Canadians or permanent residents are not available to fill job vacancies.
In spring, amid allegations the program was being abused, federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney had placed a temporary ban on restaurants that prevented them from accessing the program. He lifted the moratorium in June when he announced an overhaul of the program. Reforms included an increase to the Labour Market Impact Assessment fee from $275 to $1,000 for every temporary foreign worker position requested by an employer.
Don Sharpe, director of business operations and marketing at Mount Washington, says the Valley’s ski resort has traditionally hired about 30 snow school instructors through the TFWP.
The first year, at $250, cost $7,500.
But with the $1,000 increase in the past year, the bill jumps to $30,000.
While the $250 could be justified for processing applications, Sharpe has a difficult time justifying the $1,000.
“From our perspective, we always would like to hire Canadians where we can,” Sharpe said. “The challenge is, from the snow school perspective, there aren’t enough Canadians that want to teach skiing or snowboarding…This is impacting the whole snow sports industry.”
He says there are about 15,000 employees in the western Canadian ski industry: 70 per cent Canadian and 30 per cent foreign nationals.
“Every ski resort now is competing for any Canadian that happens to be an instructor. We don’t have enough existing people to fill those roles,” said Sharpe, noting only about 10 per cent of qualified people use their certification to teach.
“Our gap is about 30 people. The issue is they don’t exist.”
The mountain, therefore, needs to hire temporary foreign workers to fill holes.
“We just don’t have enough people that have the certification to provide the skill that we need,” Sharpe said.