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Changes to foreign worker policy impacts local ski hills

Changes to Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program are having big impacts on local ski hills.
August 07, 2014 - 11:38 AM

VERNON - Crackdowns on Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program have put local ski hills in a bind.

Ken Derpak, managing director for Silver Star Mountain Resort, says the process for hiring a temporary foreign worker now carries a $1,000 fee. Before the overhauls, it cost only $275 per person.

Silver Star typically hires 20 international snow sport instructors for ski season, meaning a $20,000 hit under the new rules.

“We won’t be hiring them, we can’t,” Derpak says. “We can’t afford such a jump in the processing fee.”

Meanwhile, Derpak says the hiring process itself has become more complicated. Employment Minister Jason Kenney introduced the changes following allegations from employees who said they lost their jobs to foreign workers. But Derpak says the changes are having negative consequences for the ski industry.

“It’s a double edged sword, not only is there a large jump in fees but also a completely more bureaucratic process to hire them,” Derpak says. “It’s not a challenge just for Silver Star but for the ski industry in general.”

He says other industries that use seasonal foreign workers are exempt from the fee while ski hills are being slapped with exorbitant costs. 

Because of a shortage of qualified level three and four instructors in Canada, the resort relies on international workers to fill the void. They’re a small percentage of the workforce, but a highly valued one.

“Having those snow sport instructors is a key role for promoting safe skiing and boarding,” Derpak says. “It’s great to have workers with a foreign language and it’s an expected guest experience for our visitors.”

Along with other regional ski hills and members of the Canada West Ski Areas Association, Silver Star is lobbying the government to review the policy, hopefully in time for ski season.

“Our first goal is to get relaxation on this. If unable, we’ll have to come up with a contingency plan,” Derpak says.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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