Universities have persuaded the federal government to relax new rules on how they hire temporary foreign workers An agreement was struck earlier this week between postsecondary institutions and the federal government which will give schools flexibility with regards to meeting the new rules that were imposed on employers looking to hire high-wage workers in June 2014.
Schools will no longer have to submit a plan on how they will transition jobs filled by highly paid foreign workers to Canadian citizens. Instead, universities and colleges will report to the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), their national organization.
Universities are the only sector that will be allowed to be self-governing in meeting some of the requirements of the temporary foreign worker program. In most cases, universities receiving TFW permits to hire foreign academics are actually planning to employ them in permanent jobs, with the TFW program simply being a faster way to bring professors or researchers to Canada.
According to Christine Tausig Ford, vice-president and COO of the AUCC, “Academic specialties can be very specific and the flexibility of being able to hire from around the world is important, as are the global connections that academics make.”
The changes to the temporary foreign worker program introduced in June primarily affected low-wage labour, but the government also added regulations for those jobs that pay the same as or higher than the median provincial wage.
Employers offering those positions must now have a transition plan in place if they hope to receive a positive labour market impact assessment. The agreement between the AUCC and the government means that universities and colleges can choose not to file that transition plan with the federal government but will still be required to submit information about any Canadians who applied for the positions.
It’s been a couple of months since the federal government announced a major overhaul to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). We’re still in a transition period and there are some kinks to be worked out, so the true effect of these changes is yet to be determined.
Some of the more significant changes involve a move from labour market opinions (LMOs) based on specific occupational classifications to labour market impact assessments based on actual labour market data and more stringent requirements for employers to look for Canadian workers first; and a differentiation between high- and low-wage temporary foreign workers.
The changes came in the wake of practices by some employers who were abusing the TFWP. In some of these cases, foreign workers were being paid much less than they should have been, and in others it was questionable employers had met the requirement to try to fill positions with Canadian workers before going the foreign worker route. The feds decided it was time to make things a little harder to bring in foreign workers and protect the Canadian labour force.
Indeed, it seems it’s now noticeably more difficult for employers to recruit foreign workers, as they have to provide more information and proof that reasonable efforts have been made to recruit Canadians before resorting to workers from other countries, and the feds themselves will check into the availability of Canadian workers. Also, the government has addressed the controversy over exploited lower-pay and lower-skilled foreign workers by limiting the proportion of low-wage foreign workers — those earning below the median wage in the particular province or territory.
The federal Employment and Social Development department recently announced foreign worker applications for July and August were 74 per cent lower than for the same period in 2012.
Some employers have expressed concern that without a steady influx of foreign workers, it will be hard to do business. In some industries and area, there just isn’t enough Canadian workers to meet labour market needs. In Western Canada, some industries have a shortage of skilled labour and they just can’t find Canadian talent.
Are the federal changes to the temporary foreign worker program too broad of a brush and a too-hasty response to a few isolated problems? What can employers in industries who rely on foreign workers because of a dearth of Canadian options do? Will the more complicated and lengthy process of recruiting foreign workers be an obstacle to meeting the demands of their businesses?
Source: HR Reporter
Experienced Canadian helicopter pilots have expressed their concerns about employers hiring cheap temporary foreign workers instead of them, by denying the experienced pilots these jobs. The pilots say that if left unchecked, this trend of hiring cheap temporary foreign workers could spell the death knell for the industry.
Bill Wadsworth is a helicopter pilot in Mayne Island, British Columbia, with about 25 years of experience. He said that he had recently applied for several jobs at various companies in the province. While he was not selected or shortlisted for any of the jobs he applied for, he did come to know that several companies to which he had applied had subsequently sought cheap temporary foreign workers. Ironically, each of the companies to which Mr. Wadsworth applied had mentioned that they had no openings at the time.
In a subsequent interview, Mr. Wadsworth said that he often came across job postings for pilots that offered hourly rates well below the prevailing industry standards. While this would effectively drive down wages in the near future, according to him, this practice of hiring cheap temporary foreign workers instead of experienced Canadian helicopter pilots would eventually lead to the demise of the industry.
Mr. Wadsworth said that this practice showed how Canadian employers were leveraging foreign workers against experienced Canadian pilots. “They’re leveraging the foreign workers against the Canadian pilots, essentially threatening Canadians by saying: ‘We’re paying these guys so little and we’re only going to pay you 10 dollars an hour more. So you either go with the flow here or we’re hiring TFWs and you’re out of work,” he said.
Kirsten Brazier, a helicopter and fixed-wing pilot in Vancouver has encountered similar experiences. She said that employers were increasingly telling Canadian pilots across the country that the Canadian pilots were under-qualified, thereby emphasizing the need to hire cheaper temporary foreign workers. In doing so, these employers were simply exploiting the loopholes in the system and hoodwinking the federal government.
The Canadian Press examined several applications for temporary foreign workers, filed by private helicopter operators from across Canada and found that these hiring companies have expressed their inability to find domestic candidates who possess the required skills.
Ms. Brazier said that the practice of not employing Canadian pilots would damage the industry in the end, as operators would use the program as a justification for disqualifying competent Canadian pilots.
Source: The National Post
The Employment Minister Jason Kenney suspended Canada’s Fast food sector from the Temporary Worker Program in the wake of program abuse allegations by several McDonald’s outlets and a pizza restaurant in Saskatchewan. This also means that any pending applications from the food services sector will remain in limbo.
While there has been widespread criticism from all quarters over the Temporary Foreign Worker Program – based on anecdotal evidence, statistical proof and national perception, the latest incidents of program abuse forced the indefatigable minister to step in and take some remedial action.
Kenney has faced a tough few weeks battling revelations about small businesses, which continually displace Canadian workers with temporary foreign workers willing to work regardless of the hours, holidays or the conditions. Ironically, the Conservatives have championed the cause of these small businesses that continue to flout the rules.
While incidents of program abuse have yielded sufficient anecdotal evidence that have shaped public perception about the Program, studies by academic institutes have queered the pitch further by providing statistical evidence that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program has raised unemployment levels.
The non-partisan CD Howe Institute established that the Program raised unemployment levels in Alberta and British Columbia – two Conservative strongholds. Similarly, Dominique M Gross of Simon Fraser University analysed the period from 2007 to 2010, when the Conservative Government eased the requirements and expedited the process of hiring temporary workers in two provinces because of a reported labour shortage in western Canada.
She found that there was little evidence of shortages in several of the fast-tracked low-skilled occupations. In addition, she also found that the influx of foreign workers contributed to an increase of a cumulative 3.9 percentage points to the unemployment rates. This led her to conclude that placing a cap on the number of temporary foreign workers entering the country annually could help buck the trend.
The Program, which had merits on paper, is clearing without adequate safeguards to prevent employers from abusing it. Thus, even as employers fill jobs with foreign workers, they continue to deny Canadians jobs in their region or even the right to migrate to jobs that they want. Similarly, Canadian employers also find themselves undercut by competitors using temporary foreign workers.
This situation would continue to be the norm unless Kenney can revamp the abused Program and provide proper safeguards to protect the rights of all Canadians – employers and workers.
Source: The Toronto Star
The fresh emergence of abuse allegations over the Canadian Government’s troubled Temporary Foreign Worker Program has led to widespread criticism from all quarters over the manner in which Employment Minister Jason Kenney has handled the issue.
The criticism does not just come from Kenney’s peers in the House of Commons, but also from business groups, labour unions and the common citizens, who believe that the Conservative Government had made it easier for foreign workers to swipe their jobs.
Critics highlight the findings of the CD Howe Institute that showed that the influx of temporary foreign workers during the past decade – from 110,000 to 338,000 currently – had raised unemployment rates in British Columbia and Alberta.
According to NDP leader Tom Mulcair, “Prime Minister Stephen Harper has publicly maligned companies who import workers with “the intention of never having them be permanent and moving the whole workforce back to another country at the end of a job. The Prime Minister has had this figured out for some time, but why, in the six years that the minister [Kenney] has been taking care of the program, has he never figured it out?”
In his defence, Kenney said that the government acted promptly when it came across any abuses of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, citing the recent example of the temporary ban placed on restaurants from accessing the program. He stressed that the government was taking any abuse of the program seriously and was even planning for another phase of reforms.
These reforms would ensure that Canadians would get the first shot at available jobs always and everywhere. In addition, he mentioned, the reforms would ensure that employers only used the program as a limited and last resort. Some of the measures Kenney suggested included the implementation of a limited fast track for workers in high-demand professions in regions of the country that had low unemployment.
However, this clearly does not placate his critics. Last year, after the crackdown on the Royal Bank of Canada, Kenney had pledged another round of reforms. Those reforms had resulted in procedural red tape and lengthy delays, which led to complaints from trade associations and employers.
With a federal election looming, many believe that Kenney would need to do more to curb abuse of the TFW program. With little scope for easing restrictions and a focus on implementing tougher rules, Kenney clearly has more to salvage than merely his reputation.
Source: Ottawa Citizen
Canadian employers still have plenty of work to do if they truly aim to attract and utilize skilled workers from abroad, according to the president and CEO of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada Yuen Pau Woo.
In light of the recent Immigrant Employment Summit in British Columbia, Woo argues that despite the common rhetoric touting the need for foreign skills most Canadian employers are not tapping into immigrant potential – a disconnect highlighted by the heavy emphasis recruiters place on having Canadian experience.
“The vast majority of businesses in Canada don’t care if employees have had work experience in Dubai, Seoul, or Sao Paulo,” writes Woo in a recent piece for the Vancouver Sun. “On the other hand, when employers in global cities advertise for global talent, they are truly looking for workers with international savvy and experience.”
The problem with the current economic climate in Canada, says Woo, is that it is very domestic-oriented. Instead of such heavy resource and export-based industry, Canadians employers should be looking to expand the knowledge and information sectors, which will allow them to tap into the underutilized immigrant resources and remain globally competitive.
Woo’s organization sees first-hand the frustration experienced by newcomers who cannot find a job in Canada. Many of them are left with no other choice but to relocate elsewhere.
This phenomenon, however, could be used to Canadian employers’ advantages, argues Woo. Instead of being suspicious of global workers, labelling them as “disloyal,” and revoking status, Canadians should encourage these workers’ endeavours which could actually strengthen their loyalty to Canada and ensure long-term economic ties.
“B.C. has established itself as an Asia Pacific Gateway,” concludes Woo. “Through a series of strategic investments in transportation infrastructure, we have succeeded in generating large and growing flows of goods and people though Vancouver, with attendant economic benefits. The bigger challenge now is to build a gateway economy, where wealth is generated not just by what flows through the gateway, but also by the globally-connected talent that works within it.”
Source: Vancouver Sun
Just in time for Alberta’s next overseas recruitment mission, the federal government has announced that it will increase the number of working holiday visas granted to Irish citizens in 2014.
Alberta employers and governments have made several such trips out to Ireland and the United Kingdom in recent years specifically to recruit much needed labourers – many of whom have been hit hard in the recent global recession.
Meanwhile in Canada, the Western Prairie provinces continue to grapple with labour shortages, despite the economic slowdown. By allotting 10,700 working holiday visas to Ireland alone – up from last year’s 6,500 – the federal government is signalling strong support for these Alberta-led recruitment missions.
Next month’s delegation, organized by Calgary Economic Development, will include representatives from six different companies, mostly from the energy and construction sectors.
“In Calgary really, demand for workers exceeds supply. The unemployment rates over there are 13.9 per cent in Dublin and Manchester 7.2 per cent where supply of workers exceeds demand,” said Calgary Economic Development’s Jeanette Sutherland. “If we don’t get some of those skills in, in time we really run risk of losing projects to international competitors. One of the employers that went to Ireland two years ago mentioned that by hiring 10 Irish workers with the skills that we needed it allowed them to hire 30 locally and allowed them to compete on some of these international projects.”
The overseas trip will take place at the end of March. Working holiday visas are specifically for applicants aged 19 to 35, looking to work in Canada for up to two years. Recent amendments to the Canadian Experience Class also announced this month will help to make it easier for young workers from Ireland to gain the experience needed to qualify for immigration.
Source: Calgary Herald
Alberta will continue to face labour challenges in the coming year, according to a new report.
The report, compiled and released by Alberta firm Collective Technical Recruitment, predicts that employers in the province will continue to have trouble finding the skilled workers they need, particularly in the oil and gas sector.
The report identifies several key occupations that are expected to see shortages in 2014. They include power engineers, which are the most in-demand occupation in the oilsands, and financial workers.
Alberta is still one of the top growing provinces in Canada, with one of the hottest job markets, despite the recent global recession. The enormous growth has also resulted in a construction worker shortage. With over 800 projects in the works for 2014, construction workers, managers and supervisors will be amongst the most-needed professionals in 2014, according to Collective Technical Recruitment.
Workers have been increasingly migrating to Alberta from both within and outside of Canada, yet employers are still having trouble finding all of the labour the need to keep up with demand.
Source: Huffpost Alberta
A new report suggests that Canadian businesses can and should do more to integrate new immigrants if they wish to remain competitive in today’s global marketplace.
The report, compiled and released by workers at the University of Toronto’s Mowat Centre, points out that despite its growing population diversity, Canada still remains heavily dependent on just a few trading partners – particularly, the United States and Europe.
The authors of the report argue that Canada is missing a huge opportunity to build and strengthen economic ties with emerging markets in countries like China, India and Brazil. Furthermore, the conception of immigration is changing, as more and more people are becoming citizens of the world – travelling and maintaining ties with several countries at once.
With its looming labour shortages and an increasingly competitive market for talent, Canada must become more aggressive in not only attracting skilled workers, but also in providing the necessary tools for adaptation and success once the immigrant has arrived.
Integrating newcomers economically benefits employers, which, in turn, benefits all of Canada. Workers with cultural and social ties to their native countries (diaspora networks) – like those from India, which has one of the fastest growing populations in the world – provide an invaluable tool to tap into emerging markets.
The report argues for increased efforts on the part of Canadian businesses to work with professional immigrant networks and immigrant resource groups, for instance. The authors also advocate for increased efforts from the government on several fronts. Student and business visas, for instance, take much too long to process in today’s instant economy. New arrivals need more freedom to travel, which often is limited by permanent residency landing requirements. There needs to be more awareness regarding the unrealistic expectation of Canadian experience.
If Canada is able to recognize the value of tapping into and prioritizing immigrant diaspora networks of culture and communication, then and only then will it be able to maximize its economic potential in today’s, and tomorrow’s, global market.
Source: Toronto Star