Solomon Islands hospitality workers arriving in Saskatchewan in late spring

REGINA — Two Saskatchewan resorts and one quick-service restaurant are expected to welcome the province’s first student workers from the Solomon Islands in late spring.

Jim Bence, of SHHA.

Jim Bence, of SHHA.

REGINA — Two Saskatchewan resorts and one quick-service restaurant are expected to welcome the province’s first student workers from the Solomon Islands in late spring.

Those workers are expected to arrive in June, Jim Bence, president and CEO of the Saskatchewan Hotel & Hospitality Association (SHHA), told CLN. At the time of writing, he declined to name the participating resorts and restaurants, since “letters of intent still need to be signed.” 

Last October, SHHA signed an agreement with the Solomon Islands’ Guadalcanal province to facilitate the entry of recent graduates of its Hospitality program to work on a temporary basis in Saskatchewan to gain industry experience.

Hospitality grads will serve 120-day work terms, but Bence expressed his wish that terms could, in future, be extended to one or two years. 

“Employers in many communities across the province are experiencing labour shortages and are finding it very challenging to maintain minimum staffing levels,” Bence has said previously. He cited the case of quick-service restaurants in Kindersley, Sask., that are “really struggling.”

Calling the Solomon Islands program a potential “game changer” for Saskatchewan’s tourism and hospitality industry, Bence added that plans call for “a couple more” hospitality grads to arrive in the province after the initial group settles in.

Plans are underway for Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare to make his first ever visit to Canada — likely in May, coinciding with the SHHA’s 85th annual conference, in Saskatoon, said Bence — to hold discussions on labour mobility issues.

The Solomon Islands is a sovereign country east of Papua New Guinea and its citizens do not need a temporary resident visa for Canada.