The federal government has indicated it will make changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) to make it easier for employers to bring in staff from overseas.
Many of the changes made by the previous Conservative government, including redefining requirements for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), are favoured by the Liberals.
The changes will be made public in September, when the results of a full review of TFWP are presented to parliament.
The government has faced complaints from the fish processing industry in the East to meat producers in the West that they have vacancies with no-one to fill them, because Canadians do not want the jobs.
Firms seeking highly-skilled talent also use the program, but they find the process of acquiring an LMIA too slow, when their needs are immediate.
Caps introduced by the Conservatives were set to see the number of TFWs reduced to 10 per cent of a company’s workforce in July. But the Liberals gave businesses an 11th hour reprieve by keeping the limit at 20 per cent. New changes are expected to relax that further, although possibly only for those industries deemed most in-need.
Immigration Minister John McCallum has hinted at the changes during the series of roundtable meetings he held as part of the Liberal review of the immigration system. It is one of several key areas McCallum wants to improve.
As a result of Conservative changes, numbers of TFWs have been on the decline, from almost 120,000 in 2013 to less than 75,000 in 2015.
Source: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
The majority of this number are employed in the farming industry, leaving others chronically short of what is a key source of labour.
The Conservative changes were made as a result of accusations of blatant abuse of the system, including companies ignoring Canadians in favour of TFWs.
Critiques say TFWs drive down wages and are open to mistreatment from employers because of their temporary status.
There have been calls for the program to have a direct pathway to permanent residency, but this would appear short sighted.
There is no doubt it has been misused in recent history, but if the regulations are properly enforced it acts as a key labour force provider.
Migrant workers and Canadians alike must be protected against exploitation by employers. However, low-skilled foreign workers who choose to apply to work in Canada must do so knowing that their relocation has a finite term and those who cannot find a permanent pathway to Canada through existing programs, will be required to leave afterwards.
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