Fort McMurray: Fire & Rescue

an areal view to Fort McMurray

For decades, Fort McMurray has been the hallmark of the Canadian energy and natural resources industry, situated in the north of Alberta, Canada. It is a cold industrial city with temperatures rarely reaching above 10 °C.

However, Fort McMurray is a big draw for people from overseas or from less economically stable parts of Canada like Newfoundland and Labrador. Fort McMurray is a massively multicultural city, with people moving hoping to find lucrative work in Tar Sands and oil fields. Even as the economy declined and work in the oil industry dried up throughout 2014, 2015 and into 2016, people from all corners of the world flocked to Fort McMurray.

The Burden of the Fort Mac Wildfire

smoke seen in Fort McMurrayOn May 1st 2016, the Fort McMurray blaze took hold. With the potential to be more devastating than any economic or financial disaster in the area, the fire in Fort Mac will likely become one of Canada’s biggest and most costly natural disasters. At the time of writing, the fire has been burning for two weeks.

Currently, no cause has been identified but it is speculated that a drier than usual winter high temperatures in the region led to the wildfire outbreak. Although wildfires are a natural and necessary occurrence, the Fort McMurray Fire has been exceptionally devastating to both the environment and the economy:

  • The wildfire spans more than 2400 square kilometres with smaller hotspots outside the city perimeter;
  • 94,000+ residents were evacuated;
  • 2400 homes and buildings have been destroyed with some areas reporting losses of 70% and 90% of all homes;
  • 530 buildings have been damaged;
  • The oil industry is estimated to lose $760 million worth of production in the month following the outbreak of the blaze;
  • The recovery cost is currently estimated at $9 billion with insurance pay-outs estimated to be between $2.5 and 5 billion;
  • A significant spike in O2 emissions is expected;
  • A general surge in waste, toxicity and water and air pollution.

What Comes Next

Over the coming months, huge rebuilding operations are set to take place in Fort McMurray. With the extent of the damage, there is no way that Fort McMurray will repair and rebuild with the manpower currently at its disposal.

It doesn’t feel right to say that opportunities will arise from this massive natural catastrophe but they will. Fort McMurray will need people to help them recover and many of these people will come from abroad.

This transient community that was struggling and experiencing an exodus of workers before the fire is in need of professionals in many fields. Career fairs have already started within Canada but the clean-up will be a large scale and staffing will be ongoing for weeks and months to come.

Currently, the demand is for cleaners, movers and general workers. However, the second wave of recruitment will be for more specialised and skilled workers including skilled trades, engineers, environmental and scientific specialists. There may also be a demand for administrators and social workers to help rehouse those that were evacuated. Though not in demand now, workers in these areas should start applying to work in Canada now.

Want To Help in Fort McMurray?

There are many channels through which a person may start working in Canada. In order for a non-Canadian to work in Canada, they will need a work permit and entry visa such as:

  1. A Canadian Work Permit is open to anyone who has a job offer from a Canadian employer.
  2. A work permit issued under the International Experience Canada program is a 2-year visa open to people aged between 18 – 30 inclusive (35 in some case). Holders of this visa are free to work for any employer they wish.
  3. A Canadian Experience Class visa is a permanent visa for people who have 12 months of Canadian work experience within the past 3 years.
  4. A Provincial Nominee Program visa is another permanent residency visa for people with skills in demand as set by the province.
  5. A Federal Skilled visa is Canada’s general permanent residency visa.

For those with a job offer, the Canadian employer needs to obtain approval to hire a foreign national. An LMIA (Labour Market Impact Assessment) is the approval needed and is issued once a company or organisation proves to the Canadian government that they are unable to find a Canadian or Canadian citizen qualified for a specific job. are experienced in assisting Canadian employers to obtain their LMIA.

Some trades in Alberta have licensing requirements including electricians, plumbers, welders and mechanics. The pre-license approval needs to be arranged in advance in order to obtain your work permit. can assist you with this.

For those looking to obtain a permanent residency visa for Canada, the Express Entry is a points based system which is in place to determine who is eligible for a permanent residency visa.

If you are serious about going to Canada and getting to work in the Fort McMurray rebuild, contact Visa First today to see how we can get you there!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *