Federal government announces reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Changes to emphasize temporary aspect of program with object of recruiting, training Canadians to fill positions
|employmentlawtoday.com|Last Updated: 05/13/2013

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

"Canadais 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 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
•identify English and French as the only languages that can be used as a job requirement.

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.

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