Friday, January 8, 2016

Meat packers seek Syrian refugees

Canada’s meat packers want to hire Syrian refugees.

They have been short of workers and have been using the federal government’s temporary worker program to bring in workers from other countries.

Rory McAlpine,  a senior vice-president for Maple Leaf Foods Inc. is offering to hire Syrian refugees to fill vacant jobs at two of its meat plants., said "we would be very pleased and honoured to be part of the solution in terms of helping find employment for the Syrian refugees."

"We have jobs available."

McAlpine said initially Maple Leaf could hire 25 refugees at its pork plant in Brandon, Man., and about 10 at its smaller operation in Lethbridge, Alta.

The company is looking for physically-fit people with manufacturing experience who could be trained as general production workers and meat cutters.

The Canadian Meat Council has been urging the federal government and the provinces to do all they can to settle some of the refugees in smaller rural communities in Western Canada, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada where their labour is needed.

McAlpine said the challenge for the industry is that most of the government-sponsored refugees are to be settled in major cities.

He said Maple Leaf is waiting to hear how the settlement of refugees will unfold to see how many candidates it can interview.

Meat packers have looked to refugees and immigrants for employment for decades.

In Kitchener, for example, the plant manager at now-defunct MGI Packers said in the 1990s that his workforce tended to reflect waves of recent immigration with word of mouth spreading among the newcomers.