Mayor Naheed Nenshi feels a growing Calgary needs more access to working migrants who can become citizens. He is therefore ripping both the temporary foreign worker program and the Harper government’s changes to it.
The “current system strips people of their dignity,” said the mayor. His comments mirror Alberta government officials’ protests that Ottawa’s recently announced restrictions on hiring temporary workers, especially in low-paying jobs, will hurt the city that hired a record 38,508 this year.
“I think that the changes that have been announced by the federal government are not particularly responsive to the needs of Alberta in general and Calgary in particular,” Nenshi said on Tuesday. “We need migration in order for our system to work.”
Nenshi, whose parents emigrated from Tanzania in the 1970s, did not propose any alternative solutions to the temporary foreign worker program. But he noted that the status quo is unfair to people working at Tim Hortons and in other service jobs.
“To treat people like commodities that come here for two years and serve us our coffee in the mornings, I don’t think is a particularly Canadian attribute,” Nenshi said.
“And I think we have to figure out ways to let people in and give them a path to citizenship and continue to live dignified lives, regardless of the job they do.”
Employment Minister Jason Kenney has claimed that several businesses are overusing the temporary worker program in ways that distorts the labour market, keeping the wages down.
In parts of Alberta with low unemployment, companies will still be able to hire low-wage workers, but they can only be up to one-tenth of a firm’s total staff.
Alberta’s government is not happy with the changes. They say these will hamper an economy already facing labour shortages. Alberta’s three Progressive Conservative leadership candidates have also criticized the federal reforms.
Source: Calgary Herald
Alberta, an oil- and gas-rich western province, has been was responsible for entire Canada’s net employment growth in the past 12 months, adding 81,800 jobs while the rest of Canada lost 9,500. The trade surplus in Alberta stood at C$7.4 billion ($6.9 billion) in May, and made up for the deficit rung up everywhere else.
If such growth trends continue, Alberta would surpass Quebec to become Canada’s second-largest provincial economy in three years, according to Bloomberg.
“Alberta is already by far the strongest province economically, and higher oil prices will only exacerbate the regional split,” says Benjamin Reitzes, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.
Alberta’s growing power is putting energy ahead of manufacturing exports like Ontario’s cars and Quebec’s aircraft. But it’s also drawing tens of thousands of young people who are seeking energy jobs with some of the country’s best salaries.
This is a challenge for policy makers: Oil wealth has made the Canadian dollar stronger, squeezing Ontario and Quebec manufacturers. The central bank of Canada is keeping interest rates near historic lows, and is looking for a weaker currency to boost exports.
“We see a two-track economy,” says Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz. “Canada’s non-energy exports have disappointed, holding back growth. At the same time, energy exports have indeed been quite strong and we expect that to be a continuing trend.”
For decades, manufacturing has been at the heart of Canada’s economy and government policy. It was started by a 1965 pact to form a single market for autos between the US and Canada, and a 1988 free trade agreement to remove tariffs on goods traded by the two countries.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says that Canada may see C$650 billion of resource projects over the next decade, for instance, the Enbridge Inc.’s C$6.5 billion Northern Gateway pipeline. This project would take Alberta bitumen to the Pacific Coast, thereby opening access to Asian markets and reducing Canada’s dependence on the US. Producers are also hoping for TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline, which would take Alberta’s oil to the US Gulf Coast refineries.
“Continued expansion of oil and gas production has resulted in increased revenues,” says Chief Operating Officer Keith Creel. “Looking at the balance of 2014, we see strong fundamentals on the demand side.”
According to Bank of Montreal, Alberta has been “effectively the lone driver” of recent housing starts, caused by population growth that has been the highest in more than three decades. Next year, the province’s per capita gross domestic product is estimated to reach C$88,000, which will be C$35,000 more than the rest of Canada.
The jobless rate in Alberta was 4.9% in June and has averaged 5.4% in the last five years. Whereas in Canada overall, it was 7.1% in June, and 7.5% in last five years.
“When you live in Alberta you have a sense of job security and of choice,” says Byrne Luft, vice president of operations for Manpower Canada in Toronto. Alberta’s labor market has gone “from a very tight unemployment rate to an extremely acute, critical point,” said Luft.
According to data by federal statistics agency, more people moved to Alberta from other provinces than to any other area. About 27,700 moved in 2011-12. Since 1976-77, Alberta has brought in a net 483,600 people from the rest of the country, whereas Quebec saw an outflow of 465,400 people in that period. Ontario saw a net inflow of 63,200 people, which is 13% of Alberta’s total.
Output from Alberta’s oil sands will more than double to 4.1 million barrels a day by 2025 from 2013, according to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. The value of exports of crude oil derived from bitumen has almost doubled to C$81.7 billion in 2013 from C$42.8 billion in 2009.
According to Bank of America Corp. data, Alberta’s bonds due in 7-10 years yielded 2.63% on July 21, compared with 2.79% for similar-maturity Ontario debt.
Alberta pays 60 basis points above comparable federal debt to borrow money for 7-10 years. This is the lowest spread among Canada’s 10 provinces. Investors ask for 80 basis points from Ontario and 81 basis points from Quebec to hold debt of that maturity.
“Canada is becoming a tale of two cities, Toronto and Calgary,” says Jack Mintz of the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy. “I don’t think growth in Alberta means other places are worse off,” he said. Ontario has lost manufacturing competitiveness to China, the US and Mexico, he said.
In a review of prosperity across 24 global cities conducted by the Toronto Region Board of Trade, Calgary rated higher than Toronto. Paris was ranked first. Calgary was second on superior growth for income and jobs, along with lower taxes, and Toronto was in third place.
Alberta’s growth marks both a revolution for Canada’s economy as well as a throwback to the days when the country relied on the fur trade. Even today Canada remains dependent on exports of such staple goods.
According to Peter Buchanan, CIBC World Markets economist, oil as a staple export has more staying power than the beaver pelts that once fed Europe’s fashion industry. “Fur hats come and go in fashion, but it’s harder to do without oil,” he said.
A husband and wife owning two chain restaurants in Labrador have launched a constitutional challenge against Ottawa’s move to restrict them from hiring foreign workers and place their business on an online blacklist.
In 2013, Jeff and Miriam Staples, who own Jungle Jim’s Restaurant and Greco Pizza franchises, had made five labour market opinion (LMO) applications to hire about 20 migrant workers. But three of their applications which had been approved in October last year were suspended by Employment Minister Jason Kenney earlier this year.
The couple’s challenge is the first legal action against the federal government’s revamped temporary foreign workers program ever since the new enforcement measures were introduced to address the public outrage over alleged abuse of the program by Canadian employers.
In case the challenge is successful, the federal court might strike down the new measures, which also include a ban on hiring foreign restaurant workers in areas where unemployment is above 6% and force the government to reconfigure the controversial migrant workers’ program.
Though the couple were informed about the suspension, they were unaware that Kenney had also published their company names on his website. “Canadian employers need certainty to enable them to order their affairs. That their LMOs may be suspended based on what may be an ever-changing version of public policy considerations is unfair, and leads to what the Supreme Court has termed a ‘standard-less sweep,’” they said in their claim. Allegations in the claim have not been proven in court.
“In the result, employers do not know the standards that they are required to meet in order to avoid their LMOs being suspended or revoked until after the minister publishes the information. The presumption in law is that new legislation does not apply retro-actively, unless parliament explicitly provides for this retroactive application.”
Staples’ offices were searched in the spring; documents were seized and Jeff Staples was handcuffed and later detained in a police station for many hours. No criminal or immigration charges, however, have been filed against them.
“In the Minister’s letter of 4 April 2014, the applicants were told only that there were reasonable grounds to suspect that they had provided false, misleading or inaccurate information in their LMO applications,” said the Staples in the court filing.
“They were provided no further information as to the allegations and were advised that an investigation would take place over the next 180 days.”
The couple argue that the minister must provide what is meant by “public policy considerations” in justifying the suspension of an LMO and “a civil investigation cannot be used as a foundation to discover evidence to be used in a penal proceeding.”
The Staples said both Employment and Social Development Canada and Citizenship and Immigration Canada have violated the couple’s right to “due process.” Both ministries have refused to comment because “the issue is currently before the courts.”
About 25,000 Canadian employers hire temporary foreign workers. In more than 1,100 work places, migrant workers make up almost half of all employees.
Source: The Star
Mothers in Florida who put their black babies up for adoption are nowadays increasingly choosing Canada in the hope that they won’t suffer from racism.
Even though international adoption is declining in many countries, in Florida it is surprisingly growing as more numbers of Florida mothers are wishing to place their African-American or mixed-race children up for adoption in Canada. A decade ago, the trend began in B.C. but today has spread to a number of provinces through Ottawa-based international adoption agency Children’s Bridge.
Many of these mothers have told adoption officials that they want Canadian families to raise their children so that they can escape the kind of racism their parents lived with. Some also point out Canada’s parental-leave benefits, implying that these would mean their babies getting a better chance of bonding with their new parents.
“Many birth mothers are choosing to have their children placed in Canada because they feel that Canada is a much more open society and they feel they will have less exposure to racism here,” said Cathy Murphy, executive director of Children’s Bridge, which has had a Florida program for nearly two years.
Melanie Kassandji, an adoption co-ordinator with Hollywood, Fla.-based Adoption by Shepherd Care, which works with The Children’s Bridge, said birth mothers choose Canadian parents because they think they will provide their child with a good life. She also noted that the majority of the families who adopt in Florida are Caucasian and are more likely to adopt Caucasian children.
“Our birth mothers express things like: ‘I have experienced racism and I don’t want that for my child,’” she said. “We have girls that say, ‘I don’t want my baby growing up in Florida.’”
Florida’s racial realities were highlighted in the year 2012 with the death of a 17-year-old Florida high school student Trayvon Martin. The black teenager was unarmed and was shot by a neighbourhood watch co-ordinator. George Zimmerman argued he was defending himself under Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law, and was later acquitted.
According to the US State Department, 21 Canadian families adopted babies from Florida in 2013. But another estimate put the number of US children adopted internationally every year much higher. Joan Heifetz Hollinger, a professor at the University of California-Berkeley School of Law, says that as many as 500 US children are adopted internationally every year, most of them black.
When most countries are closing their international adoption programs, Florida’s program is growing, and has more than doubled in the past few years. It also makes the US one of the few countries in the world with both incoming and outgoing international adoptions. This is controversial because vast majority of babies adopted by families in Canada and other Western countries are African-American or biracial.
Birth mothers can choose a family in Canada and the adoptions are often open or semi-open, implying there is contact between the adoptive family and the birth family. According to Canadian adoption officials, families that live in communities with multicultural populations are usually the best fit.
Source: The Province
From August 1 this year, the cut-off age for immigrant and refugee children will change from 21 to 18 as Canada lets economic motives determine immigration policy. This change in the cut-off age is against one of the official objectives of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act – to reunite families.
This summer the federal government seems to be quietly amending its immigration and refugee protection regulations. Since they have only set aside $62,000 for both implementation and communications, it’s obvious that they want to avoid public attention.
Until August 1, unmarried dependants aged 21 and under could be included in their parents’ immigration or refugee applications. There were exceptions for full-time students over 21 depending financially on their parents. But under the new regulations, the cut-off age is 18 and under and there are no exceptions for students.
According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, “The amendments to the definition of dependent child respond to government priorities of having an immigration system focused on Canada’s economic and labour force needs.” Their own regulatory impact analysis statement provides evidence that during immigration, the younger a child is, the better is their long-term labour market outcomes. They claim that on an average, Canadian education delivers a higher financial return than foreign education.
Despite the economic evidence, Canada stands to lose out on some highly qualified immigrants who would be unwilling to move to a new country without their 19- or 20-year-old progeny.
However there will still be economic migrants to Canada and the amendments will have a graver impact on those who have little choice in their immigration, particularly refugees. This was noted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Canadian Council for Refugees, the Canadian Bar Association, the Canadian Refugee Sponsorship Agreement Holders Association, and the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants.
Sixty groups and individuals submitted their comments after the changes were first proposed, most of these were in opposition.
The refugees and asylum seekers will now have to consider if safety in Canada is worth leaving a 19-year-old daughter or son behind in a potentially life-threatening situation. It would especially create gendered dangers in countries where women are oppressed. Many of them no longer in their parents’ house, could be forced to marry, face destitution or worse.
With this change, it is estimated that 7,000 young adults will lose the chance to come to Canada next year with their families. About 800 of them will be the children of refugees.
However, the government claims that the regulatory changes better reflect life in Canada, where children are apparently fully independent by age 19. The Canadian reality is however different and most high school graduates are neither ready nor willing to make it entirely on their own without their parents’ financial, social and emotional support. About 42% young adults in their 20s in Canada still live with their parents, and most of them have never faced famine, war, or torture.
Qualifying for a refugee status internationally or in Canada is not easy and those who are accepted have gone through more than most can imagine. It’s unconscionable to add a forced familial separation on them.
Source: The Star
This week’s economic numbers are positive. American companies were busy restocking warehouses in May, increasing by 0.5% and following a hearty increase of 0.6% in April. Retail sales in the U.S. edged up by just 0.2% in June. Bombardier Aerospace sold $3.35 billion worth of aircraft in the month of July, which will have a visibly positive effect on national trade balance figures come the end of the quarter.
So how do small to medium Canadian exporters know where the world economy is headed when the numbers are so diverse? This is data overload, something that Export Development Canada’s chief economist, Peter Hall, calls the “tyranny of the urgent”. What numbers really matter? Which ones should the exporter care the most about? Here are four to watch:
Purchasing Managers Indices (PMIs): These indices track economic output, new orders, backlogs, stock levels, employment and input and output prices across the manufacturing, construction, retail and service sectors. They are compilations of data provided by purchasing managers: how much input are they ordering for production and what prices are they looking at? Theses indices are produced faster than data compiled by government agencies such as Statistics Canada and they usually appear monthly. One PMI to watch is MarkIt Economics’ PMI.
The Baltic Dry Index is a standard shipping index, updated daily, that measures the price of moving raw materials by sea. Named for a boat, not the European sea, it tracks the demand for shipping capacity, which is relatively inelastic. It reflects world demand for the raw materials needed for economic production. Its North American counterpart would be the Cass Freight Index, which measures continental freight volumes and expenditures, and the Nulogx Canadian General Freight Index.
Global GDP is the fundamental metric for how a country is performing. The figures for some countries, such as Argentina, may be extremely rough estimates or downright misleading. The World Bank uses it for the world’s countries and territories and shows year-over-year performance. The details can be surprising: Despite ongoing political unrest, Egypt economy grew by almost 50% between 2009 and 2013.
Trade Data Online is produced by Industry Canada, and while it’s not a true economic indicator of the economy as a whole, the data sets it provides show exactly what’s going on in any particular industry. The information helps determine where to export products, how much competition there is, provide overseas trade balances and where products are being imported. In addition, the World Bank produces Market Data and Information tools that provide export and import stats for 200 jurisdictions.
Source: Profit Guide
According to doctors, Ottawa’s bid to crack down on abuse of the temporary foreign worker program is hindering efforts to bring in a class of highly skilled labourers, the kind that Canada badly needs.
Physician recruiters across the country say the red tape and fees now associated with the program are a cause for concern for international physicians who want to fill vacancies in Canada’s hospitals and medical offices, especially in rural communities where doctor shortages are common.
A tightening of the rules in the last three years, including the most recent overhaul, announced last month, has convinced some recruiters to give up on the TFW program altogether. “Many, many, many recruiters that were doing this work back in 2011 have dropped off,” said Joan Mavrinac, head of the regional physician recruitment office for Essex County, which includes the border city of Windsor, Ont.
The TFW program had been under fire for more than a year when Employment Minister Jason Kenney and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced sweeping reforms designed to prevent unscrupulous employers from importing low-wage foreign workers to displace Canadian employees.
The reforms include a 10-day turnaround time to process applications for highly skilled, high-wage workers, but they do not address any of the unique concerns of doctors, many of which stem from the fact MDs are generally self-employed.
For international physicians, the TFW program has functioned as both a bridge to permanent residency and a means to work in Canada temporarily or while continuing to live in the United States. But since most are independent contractors, there is no for-profit company ready and willing to pay the fees and wade through the paperwork as there would be in the case of other high-skilled professions.
That work is often left to health authorities or local physician recruitment offices, neither of which are flush with cash.
“Doctors are independent contractors. We’re working in a grey area where the application process doesn’t allow us to check that box,” said David Gravelle, the family physician recruitment officer for Southern Georgian Bay and a spokesman for the Canadian Association of Staff Physician Recruiters (CASPR), which represents community and hospital-based recruiters.
To bring in a doctor under the TFW program, recruiters first have to secure a labour market impact assessment (LMIA), verifying there is a shortage of doctors in that location and that no qualified Canadians are available to fill it. To get an LMIA, recruiters have to place national advertisements in at least three places, including the federal government’s national job bank, for at least four weeks.
Instead of declaring a blanket shortage in one town recruiters have to secure an LMIA for every address, even if those addresses are close to each other. If a new foreign doctor wants to work at three different locations, the recruiter needs to obtain LMIAs for each location.
Prior to 2013, LMIAs were free. Last year, Ottawa introduced a $275 fee. Last month, as part of the TFW overhaul, the federal government increased the fee to $1,000 per LMIA, money Ottawa is planning to spend on beefing up and expanding inspections.
A spokesman for Employment and Social Development Canada, said that recruiters in Windsor contacted the department in 2013, and that officials have been working to sort out the difficulties there.
Mr. Kenney’s press secretary Alexandra Fortier said in a statement that the TFW program will now be administered based on wage, “because wage is a more objective and accurate reflection of skill level and labour need in a given area. This new process will allow physicians to be processed faster and will bring their applications on top of the pile.”
Ms. Mavrinac, the Essex County recruiter, said there are 16 American doctors who currently cross the border to work in her area under the TFW program. She is in the midst of processing applications for two more American doctors who want to commute from the U.S., after which she will not be accepting any others, unless they plan to relocate to Canada.
Source: The Globe And Mail
For almost a year, the Bank of Canada has been expecting key pieces of the economy to fall into place. Unfortunately, this hasn’t happened.
Instead of the long-anticipated rebound in exports and business investment, growth has been low as every forecast, whether for Canada or globally, failed to deliver as advertised.
“Right now, we do not have a sustainable growth picture in Canada,” Stephen Poloz, the central bank governor, said Wednesday in an unusually blunt assessment of the economy.
The hoped-for sustained recovery in the United States and Europe, crucial for a rotation back to this country and spurring moves into new markets, and taking the weight of growth off Canadian consumers, has yet to take hold.
“The most important thing has been the failure of exports to recover,” he told reporters in Ottawa, after delivering the bank’s latest interest rate decision — no surprise, no change — and releasing its closely watched quarterly economic outlook, which pushed back any significant improvement until “around mid-2016.”
“There’s no question that with higher global prices for energy, higher Canadian terms of trade, that’s one positive, natural force that’s working its way through our economy. Over time, we know the energy sector will get bigger and bigger, as a share. But it seems unlikely that it will be sufficient to fill the entire wedge of exports from the other sectors,” said Mr. Poloz, 58.
The current economic environment in Canada is part of the “serial disappointment” that has been playing out globally, he said, and one he has witnessed since taking over from Mark Carney in June 2013.
In its latest assessment, the Bank of Canada said previous concerns that weak price gains could lead to a round of deflation have dissipated — along with the likelihood that borrowing costs might decline rather than rise. This pattern has not been seen since September 2010 when policymakers cut their trendsetting interest rate to 1%.
Instead, Mr. Poloz and his policy team maintained their wait-and-see stance, leaving that key rate unchanged and maintaining a neutral stance on future movements. Stating that the forecasts could change, the economists have ruled out any change in borrowing costs until mid-to-late 2015.
The quarterly Monetary Policy Report, released at the same time as the interest rate decision, noted the bank “is neutral to the timing and direction of the next change to the policy rate, which will depend on how new information influences the outlook and assessment of risks.”
That statement could be seen as uncharacteristically blunt for Canadian central bankers.
“One has to give Stephen Poloz credit for penning meaty policy press statements. Nothing opaque about this. The bank has managed to provide investors with a clue that the odds of a rate cut are actually the same as those of a hike,” said David Rosenberg, chief economist at Gluskin Sheff and Associates.
Avery Shenfeld, chief economist at CIBC World Markets, said Mr. Poloz and his team “didn’t say anything specifically about the Canadian dollar, but they said that anything that hurt our competitiveness would be a risk to getting exports going. You can read between the lines: A stronger currency would be one of those risk factors we would rather not face.”
Mr. Shenfeld added: “We’ve been relying on debt-financed household spending and homebuilding to drive the economy.”
The bank said the Canadian economy is expected to grow 2.2% in 2014. Policymakers had earlier forecasts a 2.3% gain in GDP, after a 2% increase in 2013.
Globally, growth will be limited to 2.9% this year, down from the previous 3.3% estimate, the bank said. The United States — the largest market for Canadian goods and service — is estimated to advance 1.6%, considerably lower than the 2.8% forecast in the bank’s report in April, with severe weather conditions in the first quarter of this year blamed.
The eurozone, which climbed out of recession in 2013, is expected manage growth of 0.9% this year, again, at a lower rate than policymakers had anticipated in the spring. Similarly, but at a lesser degree for China, the 2024 advance was lowered to 7.2% from 7.3%.
“Given the downgrade to the global outlook, economic activity in Canada is projected to be a little weaker than previously forecast,” policymakers said Wednesday. “However, the bank still expects that the lower Canadian dollar and a projected strengthening in global demand will lead to a pickup in Canadian exports, investments and eventually, a more sustainable growth track.”
Those same policymakers have pushed back their timetables for eliminating the country’s economic slack and reaching their inflation targets to “around mid-2016,” from their “early 2016” forecast in the previous report in April — a threshold level that had already been revised from a mid-2015 projection in the bank’s quarterly report before that.
Both the Consumer Price Index and the so-called core inflation reading, which strips out many volatile items, are produced monthly by Statistics Canada. Policymakers follow those inflation trends, with the ideal level being 2%, midway between a broader range of 1% to 3%. CPI has recently overtaken the 2% point and the core rate has been closing in on that level.
“Over the next two years, inflation is projected to fluctuate around 2% as the temporary effects ease and the downward pressure from economic slack and heightened retail competition gradually dissipates. Given the downgrade to the global outlook, economic activity in Canada is now projected to be a little weaker than previously forecasts,” the bank said.
Source: Financial Post
As Canada moves into the second half of the year, many employers are seeking to increase headcount. More than one-half (56 per cent) of hiring managers have plans to hire full-time, permanent staff, up from 48 per cent this time last year, and 40 per cent in 2012.
Additionally, 50 per cent expect to hire contract or temporary workers, this figure was 42 per cent in 2013. 36 per cent of employers said they’ll be hiring part-time employees.
“The Canadian economy remains healthy, with employers adding jobs over the past several years and continuing to look to increase headcount in the back half of 2014,” said Brent Rasmussen, president of CareerBuilder North America. He added that with employers looking to fill a wide variety of positions this growth will be felt across industries and company sizes.
Most workers don’t plan on leaving their current employer and 26 per cent said they are likely to change jobs in the next 12 months, a decrease of four per cent from last year, found a survey of 431 hiring managers and HR professionals and 422 workers.
Top areas for hiring
The top functional areas for which businesses plan to hire in the second half of 2014 include:
• information technology (34 per cent)
• customer service (29 per cent)
• sales (22 per cent)
• production (21 per cent)
• accounting/finance (17 per cent)
• marketing (17 per cent)
• research and development (15 per cent)
Emerging skill sets
When asked to identify specific areas their organizations plan to hire for in the second half of 2014, employers pointed to jobs tied to:
•cloud technology (21 per cent)
• mobile technology (16 per cent)
• search technology (14 per cent)
• cyber security (14 per cent)
• health informatics (13 per cent)
• wellness (13 per cent)
• social media (13 per cent)
• financial regulation (13 per cent)
• managing and interpreting Big Data (12 per cent)
• global relations (11 per cent)
• content strategy for the web (10 per cent).
Source: HR Reporter
On Friday, employment Minister Jason Kenney said he’s willing to consider “local exemptions” to his recent overhaul of the temporary foreign worker program.
Saying he’ll consider changes in specific areas with very low levels of unemployment in regions with a higher level Mr Kenney made it clear he won’t compromise on the core goal of his controversial overhaul to the program. This is mainly: making sure employers don’t use it as a cheap source of labour when they could be hiring unemployed Canadians.
“I did reiterate that these important changes are designed to ensure that Canadians always come first in our job market and that the temporary foreign worker program is only a last, limited and temporary resort,” Kenney said in Charlottetown after a meeting with provincial labour ministers.
After listening to the concerns of the provinces and territories, Kenney said he is taking the grievances seriously.
“In some cases, where there are very low levels of unemployment found within regions of higher unemployment, we are prepared to consider special local exemptions from some of the changes that we recently announced.”
In June, Kenney toughened penalties for companies that violate the new rules, and promised inspections to uncover abuses. He also announced changes to limit the number of foreign workers that large and medium-sized companies are permitted to hire.
Allen Roach, P.E.I.’s innovation minister, says his fellow ministers expressed serious concerns about the changes directly to Kenney.
Roach said, “We heard from many jurisdictions that they recognized that some improvements could be made and needed to be made in certain aspects of the program. However many expressed that they are extremely concerned about the direct impact these changes will have on their industries.”
The labour ministers’ meeting came a day after western Canadian premiers gathering in Iqaluit criticized Ottawa on the changes to the temporary workers program.
“Limiting the ability to hire foreign workers to address critical labour shortages will unduly punish responsible employers in Western Canada, particularly those in smaller and remote communities where Canadian workers are not readily available,” they said in a communique.
While Kenney attempted to strike a conciliatory note toward the provinces, he took a hard line toward employers. In the past he has criticized employers as relying on relatively cheaper foreign workers as business model for success.
Kenney said, “We would encourage employers, regardless of region or industry, to redouble their efforts to hire and where necessary, accommodate, local unemployed workers,” Kenney said.
That translates to increasing pay, allowing more flexible hours, investing in training or providing transport to work from hard-to-reach areas.
“We think those options are all preferable than picking up the phone and calling a labour recruiter on the other side of the world and having someone fly you in from a developing country, into a region of double-digit unemployment.‘”
Source: HR Reporter