CENTRAL NOVA REPORT BY PETER MACKAY
This week, our Conservative government announced reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
The Temporary Foreign Worker Program was established to help fill genuine and acute labour needs. Our government has been reviewing the program to ensure that goal is met and that Canadian workers are never displaced.
While our country is experiencing significant skills shortages in many sectors and regions, it is imperative that Canadians always have first crack at job opportunities when they become available, to support the growth of the economy and strengthen our communities.
Following the review – which was originally announced in Canada’s Economic Action Plan 2013 – the government is introducing legislative, regulatory and administrative changes that will:
– require employers to pay temporary foreign workers at the prevailing wage by removing the existing wage flexibility;
– 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 program 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 Labour Market Opinions and increase the fees for work permits so that the taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the costs;
– restrict English and French as the only languages that can be identified as a job requirement.
As part of the ongoing review of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, our government will hold cross-Canada consultations over the coming months with those who use the program – businesses, industry and trade organizations, unions and others on additional changes and improvements to the program.
These reforms will help ensure the Temporary Foreign Workers Program is only used as intended – to fill acute skills shortages on a temporary basis. I am confident that the results of these changes will strengthen and improve the program; support our economic recovery and growth; and ensure that employers make greater efforts to hire Canadians right here in our communities, before hiring temporary foreign workers as a last resort.
Peter MacKay is MP for Central Nova and federal Justice Minister.