Maple Leaf Foods is in the process of recruiting foreign workers for its Brandon plant from Honduras and El Salvador.
Maple Leaf spokesperson Dave Bauer said the company is looking for appropriate candidates to meet an anticipated need of 200 workers.
“We do not currently have a set date for final hiring and arrival as we are recruiting to fill future anticipated need,” Bauer wrote in an email to the Sun.
Sandy Trudel, Brandon’s director of economic development, said if and when this new wave of workers comes in, the city will likely “feel some pressure.”
“We have a tight housing market, there’s no denying that,” Trudel said. “When the individuals come in, if they were all to be going into the market, then we would have to come up with additional units … But they’re trying to hire folks that already have family here, so if they choose to live with their family then there’s not going to be an impact on the housing market.”
Trudel said typically as the demand increases, developers tend to respond that much quicker.
“As with anything, growth is always something that causes us all to pause ... and determine how it can be accomplished,” Trudel said. “But when we look at the last five years and the amount of newcomers that have been successfully settled into the community, I anticipate that that will be the same this time round.”
Meanwhile, as the federal government takes over settlement services in Manitoba, Maple Leaf is still waiting to determine how exactly the changes will impact the company.
“We believe the current model has worked well for Maple Leaf, our employees and the Brandon community,” Bauer said. “We have had success working with the province and federal government under the temporary foreign worker and provincial nominee programs. We are confident the provincial and federal governments will continue a successful partnership for the benefit of Brandon and its workforce.”
As of July 1, immigrants will have to pass a language proficiency test to qualify for the PNP. Currently, there is no testing.
“The mandatory language testing requirement is a challenging legislation and we are paying close attention to it,” Bauer said.
Workers will now have to pass an English test at a benchmark level of four to qualify for the PNP, which is 18 months after they arrive as a foreign temporary worker. If they aren’t at that level, an option is to hire temporary workers for a period of two years.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition April 28, 2012