Employers disappointed by changes to Temporary Foreign Worker Program

The Harper government announced reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) Monday.  The Government is introducing legislative, regulatory and administrative changes that will:

  • effective immediately, require employers to pay temporary foreign workers at the prevailing wage by removing the existing wage flexibility;
  • effective immediately, temporarily suspend the Accelerated Labour Market Opinion process;
  • increase the Government’s authority to suspend and revoke work permits and Labour Market Opinions (LMOs) if the program is being misused;
  • add questions to employer LMO applications to ensure that the TFWP is not used to facilitate the outsourcing of Canadian jobs;
  • ensure employers who rely on temporary foreign workers have a firm plan in place to transition to a Canadian workforce over time through the LMO process;
  • introduce fees for employers for the processing of LMOs and increase the fees for work permits so that the taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the costs; and
  • identify English and French as the only languages that can be used as a job requirement.

For more information on these changes, visit the government website.

The NLEC has expressed the disappointment of employers in Newfoundland & Labrador with some of these changes, which will make the process of hiring Temporary Foreign Workers more expensive and onerous. Particularly, the suspension of the Accelerated Labour Market Opinion process will slow down the process of accessing Temporary Foreign Workers to fill much needed positions in this province that Canadians are either not trained for or unavailable to do. Instead of blanket changes that disadvantage all employers, government would have been better served by simply increasing investigation and controls to prevent misuse of the program.

First. However, in some cases (particularly in rural and more remote regions of the province) there is no one available in the local market with the skill set or with the interest in the available position. The NLEC fears that positions will simply go unfilled or operations shut down due to the inability of employers to fill vacancies. This will mean lost economic opportunity for our province.

NLEC Executive Director, Richard Alexander reacted to these changes in the media this week. View coverage on VOCM and CBC’s Here & Now. The NLEC will make representation to the federal government on this issue on behalf of our membership.

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