This committee is looking at a vast array of different issues, but one of the things we have been focusing on most is the labour shortage that currently exists in Canada, particularly in Saskatchewan now. Our economy is on the verge of a boom like we've never seen before. The growth potential in Saskatchewan is limitless, and I talk about that with great pride, but right now, in terms of the backlog.... The Liberals grew the backlog in immigrants from 50,000 only a few short years ago to between 850,000 and 900,000 people today, so that's the bottleneck we're looking at.
Today we've had groups of people before us who are desperately looking for specific skilled workers. We've also had groups before us looking for semi-skilled workers. A gentleman from Tim Hortons was here talking about the fact that he cannot find people to pour coffee for $10 an hour in his Tim Hortons. This is a desperate state of affairs right now.
I'd like you to comment a little bit on what you see. You're seeing the federal government going through some efforts toward legislation right now with Bill C-50 to try to end this bottleneck, to be able to satisfy the labour needs, to be able to fill those needs as appropriate. We know we need doctors and nurses. We also need construction workers, welders, and tradespeople. We desperately need truck drivers here in Moose Jaw. We need semi-skilled workers, as I have referred to as well.
The current wait list is six years. It's projected to be 10 years by 2012 if it's not addressed now. We are trying to take immediate steps right now to flip it around and start to change the whole pendulum, so instead of the waiting lists getting longer, they get shorter. That is going to mean that the government will be able to pick and choose based on the needs for employment here in our country, which makes perfect sense to me. If we need truck drivers, we're going to go out and get truck drivers. If we need doctors, likewise. If you have a doctor who is number 300,000 on the list, who is an obstetrician/gynecologist, maybe that person would soon then become number 300 on the list, because we need that person in a certain community to perform those activities.
I'd just like to hear both of your opinions as to what our government is doing in terms of trying to address specific labour needs that are desperate right now.
I want to add, before you respond, with your indulgence, Mr. Chair, that we're not at all talking with this proposed legislation about affecting anything to do with refugees or family reunification efforts—nothing—but we are going to try to pick the labour that is required and expedite that process, because it's out of control and it's getting worse and worse. In Australia, six months is the processing time for immigrants; in Canada it is six years.
I wonder if you could comment on that.