CLARESHOLM, ALTA. -- The community of Claresholm, Alberta, population 3800, needed people to fill jobs, so they turned to immigrants. Although they thought they would be able to find the workers they needed, community officials never thought 5,000 would ask to come to Claresholm and get to work.

“It’s been really surprising to see the amount of interest,” said Claresholm economic development officer Brady Schnell.

Over the next three years, the town is accepting 20 people and their families each year as part of the Northern Immigration Pilot. Since there are so many candidates the criteria they must meet becomes critical: English requirements, education, resettlement funds and work experience. All of those must be met before getting job offers and then community recommendation.

“That’s the golden ticket," Schnell said. "Community recommendation allows a candidate to apply for permeant residence” said Schnell.

For many, it is hard to believe how many people applied. But for some in the community, the number isn’t such a shock at all.

“I work here (Roy’s Restaurant in Claresholm) for seven years, Roy’s grandson’s, he gave me opportunity to work here in Canada and I’m so grateful,” said Griselda Quiroz, the kitchen manager.

She originally came to Canada on work visa for a job at a coffee shop and then got a job at Roy’s Restaurant. She found a partner, and got permanent residency.  She is now working towards becoming a Canadian citizen.


However she understand the town’s labour shortage just as much as the next person.

“(I work) 45 to 55 hours per week because we are short with staffing” said Quiroz.

Roy’s Restaurant is just one of a few places feeling the effects of a shortfall in staff in the community.

“Tim Horton’s, they struggle to stay open 24 hours a day just on weekends," said Schell, adding that a local trucking company was also short-staffed.

The community has received applicants from over 70 countries, including Mexico, where Quiroz is from.