Sponsorships fall short

Ski School veteran Rebecca “Becks” Hill (left) is one of many instructors stumped by the visa process.
Ski School veteran Rebecca “Becks” Hill (left) is one of many instructors stumped by the visa process.

The Sun Peaks Sports School (SPSS) has suffered an unfortunate hit to their seasonal staff due to government crackdowns on recruitment efforts.

For foreigners who don’t qualify for a work or holiday visa — if they’re over the allowed age or have used up their allotted time — a sponsored visa is a second option. Sponsored visas are available to companies who can’t fill their job vacancies with Canadian staff and therefore must look elsewhere.

“We aren’t getting enough Canadians applying for our jobs,” says Vincent Lafontaine, sports director for Sun Peaks Resort Corporation, “that’s why we turn towards the internationals.”

But this year SPSS’ application for sponsorship was declined, despite following the same guidelines for application that they had in past years.

“(The government’s) making it a little bit harder,” says Lafontaine. “They’re scrutinizing the applications more and you only have one shot at it. If you make just a small little mistake, they refuse it.”

This year SPSS planned on sponsoring 12 employees who otherwise couldn’t work in the country. Rebecca Hill and her husband, Graham Baker from Wirral, United Kingdom, had planned on working in Sun Peaks for the upcoming winter season.

“I have my own working visa secured for this winter,” writes Hill, “Graham was the one whose application was refused. We recently got married on November 17, so I didn’t want to take my position (without him) at the ski school.”

The two had planned on coming back to Sun Peaks, where they met three years ago, to continue teaching their loyal client base.

“We’ve enjoyed our time working in Sun Peaks and are both very sad that it has come to an end,” writes Hill. “We both wish something could be done about the situation, but don’t blame the ski school at all for this situation — (we) feel it was out of their control.”

Lafontaine feels the loss to his crew is regrettable.

“We lost 12 very experienced, competent instructors who have been coming here for years,” he says. “It’s really unfortunate.”

As for the future of the snow sports school;

“We’re still getting a lot of applications from international people who already have their own visas,” says Lafontaine. “So, we’re still able to fill up our school and get the number of instructors we want.”

If you’re a return ski student, get ready to see some new faces.