Working-visa battle headed to Ottawa
Working-visa battle headed to
Chamber pushes for changes to help ease Whistler labour shortage
The Whistler Chamber of Commerce is taking its fight directly to
Last week the business group launched a petition it is circulating across the country to gain support for its initiative, and Chamber President Louise Lundy is hoping to deliver that petition in person to the Standing Committee on Immigration in
Lundy is also working with local MP Blair Wilson to have him take the petition to the House of Commons. She said she is hoping to have 5,000 signatures from employers, tourism groups, restaurant associations, other chambers of commerce and individuals to show there is broad-based support for the change to the working holiday visa program.
“We’re basically pursuing every avenue possible to push this change through legislation,” she said. “We’re just trying to keep the momentum going until it happens.”
The petition states that changing the visa period from one to two years and removing the visa age restrictions would help offset the current and future labour shortages in Whistler and other Canadian resort communities. Whistler has traditionally relied heavily on foreign workers in
At the moment, only foreigners aged 18 to 30 are eligible for the working holiday program.
Lundy said even raising the age limit to 35 would open up a new pool of potential applicants, but the Chamber would like to see the age restriction scrapped altogether.
“If you’re 50 or 60 and want to travel and take advantage of this program, I think that would be great,” she said.
The Chamber is working to schedule a hearing with the Standing Committee on Immigration to talk about the labour shortage and the proposed changes. Lundy said there is some indication the hearing could be scheduled as early as this spring.
In the meantime, Lundy is meeting with
“The ball is in our court to just keep pushing… and working with whoever we need to work with to try and make this come about,” Lundy said.
Now that Minister Diane Finley has taken over the Immigration Ministry since the cabinet shuffle last month, Wilson said he will continue to push for changes to the immigration policy.
“The Harper government knows that we’re in a crisis situation,” he said. “Basically (we’re hearing) just lip service to the problem… and no action taken at all.”
“The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” he said. “It forces the government to realize it’s not just one or two interest groups that are speaking out.”
The petition is available to sign in person at the Chamber or online at www.gopetition.com/petitions/amendment-to-the-working-holiday-visa-program.html. Anyone with a Canadian address is eligible to sign the petition.