EDITORIAL: Ottawa hurting local ski sector

Ottawa’s over-reaction to abuse of the temporary foreign worker program could have a significant impact on the North Okanagan economy

Ottawa’s over-reaction to abuse of the temporary foreign worker program could have a significant impact on the North Okanagan economy.

As a result of a crackdown, Silver Star Mountain Resort is finding it increasingly difficult to hire overseas workers for this coming ski season. And even if they can be hired, the processing fee has climbed from $275 to a whopping $1,000 per application.

“It’s a hit for us,” said Ken Derpak, Silver Star’s managing director.

That new fee could have amounted to $15,000 last winter.

“We’d love to have 20 of them (foreign workers) this year but at $20,000, it’s not viable,” said Derpak.

Some Conservative government officials have hinted that more Canadians should be hired and the need for foreign workers is limited. Ideally, it would be great if all employees at a ski resort were Canadian but there is an extreme shortage of domestic ski and snowboard instructors, and particularly those with level three and four certification.

As demand grows among Canadian skiers, resorts must access the necessary staff, even if it means looking to Australia and New Zealand. Without them, resorts are unable to provide all of the services customers requires and that can negatively impact not only the businesses, but the country’s economy.

If there is a concern over the temporary foreign worker program being abused in sectors such as restaurants, then Ottawa should take action. But a one-size-fits-all approach for a diverse array of industries is short-sighted.

Perhaps the Conservative government needs to be reminded of an old saying — “Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.”