Northplex makes pre-manufactured homes in Barrhead, about an hour and a quarter from Edmonton. Controller Crystal Olech oversees human resources for Northplex and, since January 2010, has been making herself expert in the temporary foreign worker program.
First TFWs: We took over an existing company in 2009, and the first foreign workers had been here since 2008.
Employee makeup: We have 140 people on payroll and 57 of them are TFWs. We are expecting 30 more next month. Our TFWs come from Mexico, Jamaica, the UK, Germany, Vietnam and the United States. I try not to put all my eggs in one basket!
How has your company and its workforce benefitted? TFWs have literally allowed us to keep our doors open. We would hire locally if we could, but can’t find local manpower. Our Canadian workforce benefits by having a place to work. Those 83 people would be unemployed otherwise. And the staff really works together as a team, learning from each other.
How have your TFWs benefitted? They have good jobs with income benefitting their families. They get to learn a new set of building skills and standards that they can take with them wherever they go. A few of them apply for permanent residence, and they benefit by becoming new residents, and hopefully new Canadian citizens.
What advice do you have for those just embarking on the TFW program? The learning curve is huge and you are always learning something new about the program. I would advise people embarking on this to learn as much as they can and to stay current. Visit the websites and see what’s new. A new regulation can affect applications in process and if you miss something, it can jeopardize a whole batch of applications. Don’t hesitate to call Service Canada and ask for help. It can be hard to get through, so be patient. Try later in the day – you’ll have more luck. And someone in your MLA’s or MP’s office can be of help, too.
Anything to avoid? Avoid delaying your application as the process is long. Be very thorough with your application as you don’t want to take the chance of it being rejected for errors. Applications being rejected or returned to you is potentially jeopardizing your TWF’s careers and your business.
– Shelley Williamson
Edmonton Commerce Enews