Reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program Announced

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By A Correspondent

The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, and the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, on April 29, announced reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

“Canada is experiencing significant skills shortages in many sectors and regions, and Canadians must always have first crack at job opportunities when they become available,” said Minister Finley. “The purpose of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is to help fill genuine and acute labour needs and we have been reviewing the program to ensure that goal is met and Canadian workers are never displaced.”

“These reforms will require that greater efforts be made to recruit and train Canadians to fill available jobs,” said Minister Kenney. “They will also help ensure the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is only used as intended—to fill acute skills shortages on a temporary basis.”

Stemming from the ongoing review of the TFWP, and as announced in Canada’s Economic Action Plan 2013, the Government is introducing legislative, regulatory and administrative changes that are:

  • An employer is required to guarantee to pay a TFW prevailing wages for that foreign worker to be eligible for a work permit, effective immediately. The rule allowing companies to pay TFWs 15 percent less than prevailing wages for high-skilled positions, and 5 percent less for low skilled ones has been repealed.
  • The Accelerated Labour Market Opinion (ALMO) has been suspended, effective immediately.
  • The federal government is seeking the authority to suspend a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) if new information emerges showing that it negatively affects the Canadian economy and Canadian workers, and revoke work permits that were authorized by that LMO.
  • Fees employers pay for work permit and LMO applications will increase so that a portion of the cost of processing them will no longer have to be paid out of general taxes.
  • Job requirements for positions that use TFWs can only have English or French as required languages, unless an employer receives a special exemption after having shown Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) why the foreign language is necessary for the position.

The Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program and other primary agricultural occupations will be subject to the reform that will increase the Government’s authority to suspend and revoke work permits and LMOs if they are being misused. However, they will be unaffected by the remaining reforms, as there are proven acute labour shortages in this industry and the unfilled jobs are truly temporary.

The results of these changes will strengthen and improve the TFWP to support our economic recovery and growth, and ensure that employers make greater efforts to hire Canadians before hiring temporary foreign workers. These reforms will ensure that the TFWP, which is an important program to deal with acute skills shortages on a temporary basis, is used only as a last resort.

As part of the ongoing review of the TFWP, the Harper government will seek input from Canadians on further changes, to ensure that the Program is working in the best interests of Canadian workers and businesses. Cross-Canada consultations will be held over the coming months with businesses, industry and trade organizations, unions and others on additional changes to the TFWP.

JULY 2018

Vol. 12 - No. 12


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