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COVID-19 FAQ: Impacts on Canadian construction and engineering

As the COVID-19 health crisis intensifies in Canada, the construction sector across the country is feeling the impact of  public mandates for social distancing. The Outpost community has been reaching out to ask how COVID-19 is impacting recruitment in the Canadian construction and engineering industries. These are our answers to the most commonly asked questions.

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Are employers in the engineering and construction sectors hiring right now?

Although we do have some clients hiring for specialized roles right now, it seems the vast majority of recruitment has stalled. Most of our clients have all their office workers working from home and are adapting to the new normal of stringent health and safety measures including social distancing on site. Infrastructure projects are operating with higher levels of productivity given there is typically more space relative to buildings projects.

Given different provinces and specific projects  have different restrictions in place, it’s ideal to research the relevant province and project.

How long will it be before employers start hiring as usual again?

Hard to say. There will always be exceptions with critical roles in the coming months. However, we expect hiring to slow down dramatically as construction offices remain closed and construction sites are typically operating with reduced productivity.

What we know for sure is that we’re now experiencing a global health crisis closely followed by a financial crisis. The magnitude of this economic shock is expected to be greater than the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. It will impact all sectors of construction, but we expect commercial, industrial, and residential to be hardest hit. Public projects across institutional buildings and infrastructure will also be impacted, but investment in Canada’s infrastructure sector is long overdue and there is hope that Canada will maintain commitments to public infrastructure. We expect some major infrastructure projects to be postponed or cancelled.

While there will be exceptions, we expect construction companies to start hiring again in coming months. Once the health crisis calms, employers will adapt to the new normal.

I’m an unemployed jobseeker here in Canada right now, what advice can you offer?

As Canada manages intensifying health and financial crises, finding employment will become difficult. Most companies will resist the temptation to hire in times of prolonged uncertainty. When you add a reduction in productivity to this equation, it makes a growth activity like hiring difficult to justify except for in critical roles. 

If you are a newcomer to Canada, we urge you to ensure that you have adequate emergency medical insurance (via public health plan or private means) to cover Covid-19-related risks. Many consulates are recommending that their citizens — particularly those with insecure or no employment, or short-term status in their host country — return home in this time of crisis, so carefully consider whether you can withstand a 3-4 month period without income. Those with ongoing employment, longer-term status, and significant roots in Canada may be more inclined to continue living in Canada, despite the unprecedented circumstances.

If you are eligible for Employment Insurance in Canada, we urge you to register.

In terms of being proactive, we urge you to use our free resume templates and comprehensive Outpost blogs to help you return to the employment market as soon as possible. With high levels of unemployment expected in the post Covid-19 era, it’s critical that every candidate can up their game and present their work experience in the best possible manner. Investing time in your CV/resume will be the best time investment you can make as

My employment is uncertain / has been terminated. What action can I take?

We recommend you contact Service Canada and follow the relevant provincial guidelines to understand your employment rights. We highly recommend you research and prepare to apply for Employment Insurance (EI) if or when you receive negative news.

We highly recommend you research and prepare to apply for Employment Insurance (EI) so you can have your next steps planned if you do receive negative news.

I’m due to fly to Canada soon (May – July 2020) to activate my status in Canada. What should I do?

Regardless of the legal ability to do so, you should consider the public health crisis in Canada. If it is at all possible to delay travel to Canada, it is advisable to do so.

If you decide it is necessary to travel to Canada, your ability to enter the country depends on your immigration status. Canada has closed all international borders, including the Canada-U.S. border, to all foreign nationals unless you meet one of a handful of exceptions. For foreign workers, the most common exceptions are as follows: 

Work permit holders: Canada is allowing temporary foreign workers to enter the country, including seasonal agricultural workers, fish/seafood workers, caregivers and certain other temporary foreign workers. Only those workers determined to be “essential” are being granted entry, with officers from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) exercising discretion in determining who is “essential”.

Canadian permanent residents: Canadian permanent residents are eligible to enter the country at this time. 

Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR-holders): If you were approved for Canadian permanent resident status prior to March 16, 2020, you are able to travel to Canada to activate your status. If you were approved after this date, you will have to wait for restrictions to be lifted.

Please refer to this page for a list of other exemptions to travel restrictions.

Regardless of your status in Canada, if you travel to the country from any foreign country you will be subject to additional screening measures at the Port of Entry and you will be mandated to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

With a health crisis and financial crisis it’s critical that you have the means to support yourself financially if finding employment in Canada is expected to be a challenge. If you have employment arranged, we urge you not to make any further plans until the health crisis settles down. Circumstances are changing every hour, so please be patient.

Please note that immigration regulations are changing rapidly during the coronavirus outbreak in Canada. For up-to-date travel advice and information on how it may be possible to extend the validity period of your travel documents, please visit the COVID-19 and travel to Canada page on our sister website, Moving2Canada.com, and read the relevant instructions for the program you have been approved under. 

My immigration or work permit application is in progress, how long will it take to receive final approval? 

Canada’s immigration authorities have told applicants to expect delays in processing in the coming months. Applications are still being accepted and processed, but delays are likely. Please refer to this Government of Canada page for the latest information.

I was meant to start a new job in the coming weeks, will I still be able to start as planned?

You should contact your employer or recruiter directly if they haven’t already contacted you. It would be good to understand how the employer is handling the current circumstances and the likelihood that you will in fact start your new job. Most staff at the companies we work with are now working from home, therefore onboarding and training may be a challenge.

I recently moved to Canada, should I consider returning home until things can return to normal?

This is an important consideration. We would advise you to weigh up your options to make this decision. Being new in Canada, it is likely you moved across with a budget to keep you afloat for a certain amount of time, are trying to find somewhere permanent to live, trying to secure employment, and looking to meet friends and establish a support network. All of these will be challenging in the immediate future. You also likely won’t be entitled to publicly-funded Canadian healthcare (check out our guide on health insurance as a newcomer to Canada for details for your province), nor will you be eligible for Employment Insurance as you won’t have built up the necessary hours of work completed. In the event you were to become seriously ill you would have to pay out of pocket, a problem made worse if you don’t have access to EI benefits.

How will I know when Outpost Recruitment has new employment opportunities again?

We will be sure to send notifications such as newsletters with job opportunities, once available. Make sure you create a profile with us so we can keep you updated.  We are excited to hopefully bring you good news down the line.

Where can I find more information about how COVID-19 may affect my move to Canada?

Our sister website, Moving2Canada.com, has already helped thousands of people in Canada and around the world get to grips with this rapidly changing situation. Moving2Canada offers:

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