After Employment Minister Jason Kenney declared that the Federal Government would unveil more changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in the coming weeks, restaurants are hopeful of avoiding a permanent ban on their use of temporary foreign workers, even as they gear up for more restrictive curbs on their ability to hire these workers.
A couple of weeks ago, Ottawa had placed a moratorium on the use of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in the food service industry because of allegations of program abuse by several McDonald’s outlets and a pizza restaurant in Saskatchewan. Experts have long felt that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program has several loopholes that employers capitalise on because of insufficient information about local labour markets.
Kenney mentioned that obstructing the flow of higher skilled labour in a global economy might be counterproductive, which was why he was aiming at reforming the controversial program instead of terminating it. In an attempt to curtail the abuse of the Program, Kenney mentioned that the moratorium would remain effective until the Government concluded a probe into all the allegations of program abuse.
He admitted that some of the changes could include restaurants cutting hours of operation or even winding up operations altogether. He also expressed a hope that employers would continue to give Canadians the first shot at jobs, even if it meant paying higher salaries, spending money on trainings or encouraging prospective employees to move to get a job.
His options include utilising unemployment rates on a city-by-city basis that would enable him to prescribe different standards for employers across the country, according to Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Another alternative could be to raise the current administrative fee of $275 per worker, according to Professor Dominique Gross, a professor of public policy at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. University of Ottawa labour economist David Gray felt that auctioning temporary foreign worker permits would enable employers with the greatest needs to get foreign workers.
Be as it may, the number of temporary foreign workers has become popular in the restaurant and hotel industry, especially in Western Canada, with the number of new foreign entrants increasing from 101,000 in 2002 to 338,000 in 2012. While Kenney did not set a date by when the changes would come into effect, restaurants and hotels are hopeful that the changes would be favourable to them instead of restrictive.
Source: The Globe and Mail