Newfounderland and Labrador, another province in need of skilled workers

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Like other provinces in Canada, notably Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia out west, Canada’s easternmost province, Newfoundland and Labrador, is also in the midst of an energy and resources boom that is taxing its ability to provide the skilled labour to complete planned projects.

In many cases, the existent population of Newfoundland and Labrador, is either too old, unskilled, or has moved on to what seemed like greener pastures, such as to Alberta, to fit the profile of what’s needed on many of the planned megaprojects: engineers, project managers, and more broadly skilled trades people.

Some of the more major projects include:

  • Pursuing new discoveries offshore by US-based Chevron Corp and Norway’s Statoil ASA.
  • Exxon Mobil Corp building a new production platform for an existing offshore development, with associated fabrication work in St. John’s and around the province.
  • The provincially-own Nalcor Energy Corp’s projected work on the Muskrat hydro project in Labrador.
  • Several mining projects including iron ore in western Labrador.

According to the Globe and Mail, employers are often left to look abroad for the required workers. The newspaper cites Fred Cahill, president of St. John’s-based GJ Cahill Group, who said that “the federal government needs to continue to streamline policy to help alleviate skilled-worker shortages, while the province needs to attract more skilled immigrants.”

With similar booms happening, for example, in Saskatchewan in regards to potash, and Alberta, in regards to the tar sands, provinces are themselves often competing for the same pool of skilled labour. Indeed, from the early 1980’s until 2007, the Globe and Mail highlights the fact that the population of Newfoundland and Labrador fell by nearly 75,000 people, or 13 percent, many of these young people, seeking opportunities in the oil industry in Alberta for example.

Immigrant labour is expected to fill the gap in Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as these other provinces, experiencing similar demographics, commodity booms, and a mismatch of local labour to their needs. Add Newfoundland and Labrador to the growing list.


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