Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 2/3/2009 (3040 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Allan is spending five days in Iceland working on an immigration agreement to help find jobs in Manitoba for some of 11,000 unemployed but highly skilled workers in the economically devastated country.
"With the current high unemployment rate in most Manitoba First Nation communities, the minister should be looking no further than our First Nation communities to help fill job openings," said Dean Fontaine, who works for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.
Others suggested the province ought to look to places hard hit by the recession -- Ontario's manufacturing sector, for example -- for workers willing to relocated.
"With all due respect to Icelanders and their current plight, can somebody please inform Nancy Allan, Manitoba's immigration minister, that thousands of Manitobans and Canadians are losing their jobs left right and centre?" wrote Dave Owens in a letter to the Free Press. "Attempting to fill needed spots from people outside Canada not only seems extremely irrational and potentially hard on existing residents, but also painfully cost inefficient."
But Allan said Iceland offers a unique opportunity to aid a country that has close ties with Manitoba and enhance the immigration strategy that is propelling Manitoba's slow but steady population growth.
Foreign workers, especially ones with strong cultural support networks already established, tend to stay in Manitoba.
"This is really good for retention," said Allan. "They don't use Winnipeg as a back door to another province."
But she said the province hasn't launched a worker-recruitment campaign in Ontario, which suffering high unemployment, in part because that could saturate Manitoba's job market and the skills Ontario workers have may not match Manitoba's needs.
In Iceland, Allan is especially interested in workers whose special skills are desperately needed in Manitoba --w everything from social workers to geothermal heat pump installers.
"It's got to be measured and strategic," said Allan of the recruitment plan.
And she said the province has a "Manitoba First" policy which forces employers wanting to bring in a foreign worker to prove they failed to find a qualified Manitoban to take the job.