A meeting between Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult and the Minister of Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway delivered significant progress in assisting the district’s immigrant workforce.
Mayor Boult described the meeting as constructive and helpful to the urgent plight of many immigrant workers in the Queenstown Lakes District who are now unemployed following the lockdown.
“The minister well understood the scale of the issues brought on by the current coronavirus crisis and was grateful that we had brought it to the government’s attention so rapidly,” Boult said.
The minister undertook to enable several initiatives aimed at easing the situation for those on the essential skills working visa.
· An automatic extension of expiring working visas with immediate effect.
· The ability for working visa holders to be redeployed to alternative workplaces with immediate effect.
· Eligibility for working visa holders to apply for hardship grants from the Ministry of Social Development, also with immediate effect.
“What the Minister has provided will considerably ease the stress of many in our all-important immigrant workforce, which is a big part of our local community. It will allow for urgent welfare assistance regardless of nationality, and for the redeployment of workers into industries which are critically short of workers due to border restrictions - like horticulture and viticulture - once the
logistics around the lockdown and training requirements are considered,” Boult said.
Since going live with registrations Queenstown Lakes District Council
(QLDC) had received 335 requests for community welfare via its website.