A born and bred Canadian clothing giant is threatening to move out of the country if the federal government does not make it easier to bring in talent from abroad.
Lululemon, the athletic clothing brand, says it cannot get the staff it needs to compete and grow under the current Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).
It has emerged the company told the committee responsibly for investigating the TFWP that it cannot get the ‘top experienced global talent’ it needs to meet demand. And that is despite considerable investment in training and education to produce as many qualified Canadians as possible.
Although the comments have since been played down by the Vancouver-based company, it represents a good example of the problems being faced by firms that want to grow faster than they are able.
Lululemon’s specific issue is with the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), a mechanism for ensuring there are no Canadians to do the job being advertised.
As part of the LMIA, companies must produce a transition plan to show how they intend to move towards a fully Canadian workforce in future.
An exemption, such as the one enjoyed by Microsoft, would open up the company to a dramatically larger pool of labour as it seeks to continue to grow.
Immigration Minister John McCallum heard this message loud and clear when he conducted a Canada-wide tour gathering feedback on the current system over the summer.
The Standing Committee on Human Resources has since reported back following the submission of Lululemon, and several of their recommendations could provide assistance.
Recommendations that Could Help Lululemon
Review the LMIA application process with a view to increasing speed and efficiency, and taking into consideration the National Occupation Classification as well as the adequate allocation of resources towards training and meeting service standards.
Implement a Trusted Employer Program with the objective of reducing LMIA processing times for employers who have demonstrated trustworthiness in their use of the TFWP.
Restructure the TFWP such that it achieves better overall economic and social benefit for Canadians and program participants. Re-establish the TFWP into more specific program areas and streams that adequately reflect the realities of labour market needs in Canada.
Provide an exemption on the Transition Plan requirement for 5% of a business’s workforce that consists of high-wage temporary foreign workers.
Monitor labour market needs as to ensure skills, training, and educational output match Canada’s current and future employment needs such that reliance on foreign labour diminishes, and invest in better collection and retention of labour market information in Canada to adequately assess labour market needs.
Reform the Express Entry program to allow for fixed-term employment contracts to be allocated the same number of points as permanent work contracts, where there is a strong likelihood of continued employment.
For a full list of the recommendations, with immigration.ca’s analysis, click here.
McCallum is still to announce exactly what action he will take on TFWP following the committee’s report, but he has said he sees the program as separate from the other changes he is planning to the Canadian immigration system.
An announcement is expected in November on immigration numbers for 2017 and beyond, and into exactly which categories those newcomers will fall.
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