In early to mid-2000, Alberta was experiencing a lot of new construction activity in the oilsands. As a result, supporting industries in the province were also busy. At the time, sustained growth in the energy sector was projected for the next two decades.
To keep up with this growth, a highly-skilled, qualified workforce was required. As new plants were built, they required maintenance to ensure peak performance and meet standards of certification. The growth of the Canadian trades workforce could not keep pace with the demand, resulting in an acute shortage of construction maintenance trade skills. Trade shortages resulted in new projects and maintenance projects being delayed. The result was huge costs and revenue losses to the oilsands owners.
To reduce the costs and losses, it meant acquiring workers with the right skills and qualifications from other parts of the world to provide the industrial maintenance services and fill the void.
The acquisition of foreign workers also required the approval of federal and provincial governments so that skilled, qualified workers could be brought in quickly during periods of trade shortages. To find a solution and address trade shortages, oilsands owners (Suncor, Syncrude, and Shell) established ACTIMS.