Ban on temporary foreign workers affecting workforce in many N.B. communities
CAP-PELE, N.B. -- New Brunswick's ban on temporary foreign workers because of the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the workforce in many communities.
The people in one village say foreign workers like Sammy Rodriguez are more than just temporary employees.
Rodriguez works at Westmorland Fisheries in Cap-Pele, N.B., and has been an employee there since 2014.
His first year, Rodriguez stayed for six months. The following year he stayed for nine, and now he wants to make Cap-Pele home for his family.
"I want to stay to try to get the permanent residency to get more money," Rodriquez said. "We come for the best money. Maybe when I'm a permanent resident I can get a little bit more money."
On Tuesday, fish processors had a meeting with the province and were promised that jobs usually filled by temporary foreign workers will be filled by New Brunswickers. Westmoreland Fisheries say they were told the government would be launching an ad campaign to recruit locals.
The village has benefitted from the temporary foreign worker program. Hundreds of people, mainly from Mexico, Jamaica and the Philippines have also made Cap-Pele their new home.
"The majority of the people that were foreign workers under contract but now they have the chance to become permanent residents," said Vinson Mahawan, the Cap-Pele Filipino Association president.
Justin Leblanc is the director of communications for the village of Cape-Pele.
"The foreign workers contribute a lot to the economy whether it's doing their groceries here in Cap-Pele, using our various services like banking, really across the board," said Leblanc. "They're helpful and eventually some of them do make their way to become permanent residents, which of course grows the population here in Cap-Pele."
The village's population was at 2,425 in the most recent census.
"The community has seen a lot of development over the years to accommodate the influx of newcomers into the community," said Leblanc. "Just recently, there were two new streets developed here in Cap-Pele with mobile homes to accommodate the new citizens."
It's a familiar story but it's one that is currently on hold because of the provincial ban on temporary foreign workers.
"There are some people who are foreign workers who are under contract, but right now they are in the Phillippines on hold with their flights," said Mahawan.
With the province now determined to fill these processing plant jobs locally, those flights might not happen for a long time.