The newly formed P.E.I. based Maritime Seafood Coalition of Canada’s Atlantic fishing industry has requested the federal government to exempt the fishing industry from the new temporary foreign worker program restrictions. The coalition claims the industry will face major cutbacks as a result of the latest changes to the temporary foreign worker program, with lobster processing potentially falling by as much as 25% this year if the industry can’t find enough employees.
Nat Richard of Westmorland Fisheries in Cap-Pelé and a member of the coalition says almost half of the workers at his plant are TFWs, but under the new rules they will have to be cut down to 10% of the workforce by 2017. According to Richard, the changes will only make the situation worse since the industry has been facing labor shortages for several years as it is.
The latest changes to TFW rules have cause seafood processors and fishermen’s associations throughout the region to form the Maritime Seafood Coalition in order to pressure the federal government to reverse the changes.
Ian MacPherson of the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association says the coalition would like fish plants to be given the same exemption on TFWs as the agricultural industry.
“We’re hoping we can get some more flexibility with the federal government on some of these changes so that we’re not losing economic opportunity,” says McPherson.
But Minister of Employment and Social Development Pierre Poilievre insists that the fishing industry will still be able to access TFWs “provided they can demonstrate that no qualified Canadians were available.”
“The seafood industry should employ hard working Canadians first,” Poilievre said in a statement. “The Temporary Foreign Worker Program is intended as a last resort when employers are facing short-term skills and labor shortages, and only when qualified Canadians are not available.”
Richard says the coalition members are always looking for local people to hire but without much success. Hiring local workers is their preference, he said, but they are having to resort to bringing in foreign workers even though they cost significantly more.
“They’re paid exactly the same rates as Canadians. It’s very costly in terms of processing — $1,000 per application, we have to fly these people in here … insurance coverage — we don’t do this because it’s cheap,” said Richard.
“We do it because we are desperate for more workers and that’s been really a lifeline for the industry over the last five years.”
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Immigration has always played a crucial role in Canada’s social vitality and economic prosperity. Since Confederation, Canada has welcomed immigrants into communities throughout the country and, in return, immigrants have helped foster growth and build a nation. However, improvements can still be made to our immigration system.
Social issues figure prominently in the immigration discourse of the day. The suggested abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program by some employers has not supported the notion that immigrants are here to supplement, and not supplant, Canadian workers.
Approximately 65 per cent of Canada’s annual net growth can be attributed to immigration. With a rapidly aging population, and one of the world’s lowest fertility rates, immigration certainly helps with Canada’s population growth and by 2035 is set to account for nearly all of it.
Due to its rigorous entry requirements for economic-class immigrants, Canada permits entry to some of the best and brightest immigrants the world has to offer. According to the 2011 National Household Survey, 34 per cent of immigrants hold university degrees compared with 24 per cent of the Canadian-born population. Conference Board research has shown that immigrants tend to be entrepreneurial, motivated, experienced, and enhance business and trade ties between Canada and international markets.
At a time when xenophobia is rising in some quarters of the globe, multiculturalism has been and remains one of Canada’s eminent institutions. In comparison to peer nations, Canada maintains a relatively generous immigration system. Each year, about 10 per cent of newcomers are granted permanent residence status on humanitarian grounds.
On the other hand, research shows that, on average, immigrants today do not make up the wage-gap with their Canadian-born counterparts. This is due to a combination of factors such as challenges in our settlement services, credential recognition issues, language limitations and discrimination.
Many employers and governments across Canada argue for a tailored approach to immigration that meets workforce and regional needs. In the absence of formal jurisdiction over immigration matters, municipalities and communities nationwide are seeking greater roles in attracting and integrating immigrants.
Identifying the best ways to attract immigrants who are able to integrate into the workforce and meet our labour market needs is another issue currently debated. While the new Express Entry system aims to address this matter, concerns are being voiced that it may unintentionally exclude some outstanding immigration candidates, such as international students, entrepreneurs, and other skilled workers already here on temporary visas.
Globally, other countries with demographic challenges similar to Canada’s are re-evaluating their existing policies to better attract skilled immigrants. Canada is already in competition for top-tier international talent with countries such as Australia, Germany, Japan, Sweden and the U.S., and this will only increase in the near future.
Immigration is crucial to Canada’s prosperity. Without immigrants, Canada faces labour shortages, a smaller tax base, and increased strain on our medical system and pension funds. Indeed, in the absence of high immigration levels, Canada’s population will shrink, our economy will suffer, and our standard of living will decline.
A multi-faceted approach to change that incorporates all three levels of government, employers, communities, immigrants, and other stakeholders, is needed to modernize our national immigration program and blaze a new trail.
The Conference Board of Canada’s new National Immigration Centre, a five-year research-intensive initiative, has been launched to develop a National Immigration Action Plan based on evidence and non-partisan analysis. From April 13–15, the Conference Board will host a major, three-day, Canadian Immigration Summit in Ottawa to explore the future of Canada’s immigration system.
Colin Singer Commentary:
Historically our per capita rate was .08%. But Canada’s per capita immigration rate has been declining under the current government. Canada will need to admit 285,000 new immigrants this year, which the government has recently proposed. But new policies call for participation of Canada’s employers to hire immigrants. This may prove to be overly ambitious and result in an under achievement of admission levels. Additional revisions to Canada’s immigration programs may be required.
In today’s global economy, immigration is vitally important to every nation looking to improve its competitive standing. The challenge is to ensure that the right programs are in place to attract the brightest and the best.
British Columbia expects more than a million new job openings between now and 2022, including 985,000 from economic activity already confirmed or planned in addition to another 100,000 jobs from the expected LNG activity. Over one third of those workers will be migrants, and 78 per cent of jobs will require a college degree or higher.
While this anticipated job growth presents a huge opportunity for Canada to attract and retain high skilled labour, it will likely be wasted thanks to the overhaul of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in 2014 and the significant restrictions of the new Express Entry system. These changes are already creating havoc and uncertainty for thousands of highly skilled workers and executives employed by some of Canada’s top employers seeking permanent residency.
While the federal government is promoting Canada to the world, aggressively negotiating free trade agreements, which include contemporary rules to facilitate greater mobility of workers, at the same time its invoking immigration reforms that make it ever more difficult for highly skilled workers admitted under these programs to remain in Canada.
The Express Entry system is intended to provide expedited permanent residency to highly skilled workers, but there are significant concerns emerging as program details become clearer.
One key concern is that before an employer can provide an applicant with a qualifying job offer, a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) must be secured, which requires the employer to post the position (for which they have already hired a foreign national under one of Canada’s free trade agreements) on the government’s job board and prove no Canadians are available to perform the work.
In many cases, these individuals have held the positions for several years, and so there are no negative consequences to the domestic labour market. The same goes for foreign graduate students looking to make a permanent life in Canada, the very people that create employment opportunities for Canadians.
These new requirements may lead to some multinational companies re-evaluating the viability of Canadian operations. This could lead to potential job losses as key positions are moved outside of Canada.
Thousands of international students that graduate from Canadian universities, hoping to make Canada their home will also be affected. In the absence of a provincial nomination or qualifying job offer there is no bridge to permanent residency for these individuals.
The Temporary Foreign Worker Program needs to be immediately revised to provide a separate stream that is not wrapped in red tape to evaluate and process employer applications for high skill foreign workers.
High skilled workers with valid work permits who have been working in Canada for over a year, should be deemed to have a qualifying job offer for Express Entry, without the employer having to re-post the job.
International students with Canadian degrees in science, engineering, management studies etc. should be given a clear and rapid path to permanent residency. Work permits for students on postgraduate work should be extended to allow them to qualify under Express entry.
Today, Canada has companies successfully attracting or moving high skilled talent. We should be grateful when those individuals choose to make a permanent contribution to our economic success and therefore seriously question the merits of any new application processing system that puts up roadblocks and impedes our global competitiveness.
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
The elimination of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program for low-wage jobs will be seriously considered by the government in 2016, says Employment Minister Jason Kenney. From the Canadian Meat Council to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, business groups are speaking out against Ottawa’s latest plan to cap the number of low-wage foreign workers and impose higher fees.
Through a phase-in of new caps on low-wage foreign workers and the launch of more detailed labour market surveys, Mr. Kenney indicated that by 2016 the government will be in a position to assess whether it should take the next step.
The overhaul of the program has been called an “appalling overreaction” by business groups. All three men hoping to become the next Alberta premier, including front-runner Jim Prentice, say Ottawa is unfairly punishing the province and would demand more control over immigration policy to deal with labour shortages, as Quebec has now.
Mr. Kenney also confirmed that further changes to the Live-In Caregiver component of the TFW Program will be announced later this year. The government remains concerned with the caregiver stream even though that part of the TFW Program was left largely untouched Friday when he and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced major changes.
Canadian officials in the Philippines have been warning colleagues for years that the caregiver program was facing abuse and had largely become a “hidden” family reunification program. As far back as 2009 when he was immigration minister, Mr. Kenney said he recalls meeting in Manila with 70 women who were on their way to Canada via the program and every single one of them planned to work for a relative.
The list of invited speakers includes people, such as Canadian Chamber of Commerce President Perrin Beatty, who have been critical of the government’s foreign worker changes.
The four main topics on the agenda include whether skills shortages exist in Canada, how labour market data could be improved, how to reform educational and vocational training and how to match underrepresented groups like aboriginals and people with disabilities to available jobs.
Source: The Globe And Mail
The Sweeter Side of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program – How Foreign Workers Contribute to the Success of Prabu Sweets
Given the vast amount of negative publicity the Temporary Foreign Worker Program has received in recent times, it is easy to forget that the Program enjoys any popularity – or success – at all. Prabu Sweets, an East Indian sweets distribution company based in Surrey, British Columbia, shows how the Program has played a vital role in making the enterprise a sweet success.
Prabu Sweets began operations as a local retail outlet in 2001 with only two employees. In the intervening 13 years, the company has successfully generated such a high demand for its food products that it is currently in the process of expanding the business globally.
The company requires skilled workers and hence, the managers travelled to India and Dubai in March, for interviewing skilled head chefs, who have a complete mastery over their area of expertise. The managers ended up selecting two individuals, who would work as heads of production at their East Indian food manufacturing facility.
Things seemed hunky-dory until the implementation of the recent ban on restaurants from hiring temporary foreign workers upset the applecart. The ban has not only ended up wasting a considerable amount of time, effort and money, it has also jeopardised the future and livelihood of the company and its employees – 20 of whom are Canadian citizens.
Many people assume that temporary foreign workers are low-skilled employees, who work for minimum wages. At Prabu Sweets however, these temporary foreign workers are the force behind the company’s success. Their skills, knowledge and expertise in the East Indian food industry makes them perfect for the job – something that no one can replace easily. This is why the company treats them as vital assets and helps them establish themselves as integral parts of the Canadian society.
Significantly, no Canadian can possess these skills unless they have acquired them from the areas in which the company’s sweets and snacks originate. The managers at Prabu Sweets believe that these foreign workers actually create employment opportunities for several Canadian employees. In fact, they claim that in the near future, over 100 employees would be working under the supervision of these so-called “low-skilled disposable workers”.
Therefore, while numerous companies might be abusing the program, enforcing a ban is extremely unjust on companies like Prabu Sweets that work diligently and ethically. This ban places a question mark not only on businesses that follow the law, but also Canadian employees, skilled temporary workers and their families too.
Source: The Huffington Post, British Columbia
Canada launched its Temporary Foreign Worker Program in 1992, thereby bringing live-in nannies and caregivers into the homes of several Canadian citizens and permanent residents. This accounts for a fifth of all temporary immigration.
The authorities allow these individuals to enter Canada to do jobs that Canadians would avoid for low rates of pay that Canadians would decline outright. These individuals stay away from their homes and families for years. In addition, they can neither settle down in Canada nor marry nor bring their children over nor change jobs or expect a raise in their salaries. As if this were not enough, they also need to live in rooms provided by the employers and stick to the same job unless the authorities drive them out of the country.
Many people would feel that Temporary Foreign Workers belong to restaurants and other mining occupations, without sparing a thought for the live-in caregivers who reside with them. The Live-In Caregiver Program currently employs about 25,000 women, who have helped Canadian women enter the workforce and looked after the children and the elderly as well.
Yet, the Caregiver Program and other temporary programs have created a massive socio-economic problem. These caregivers, who contribute much to the lives of Canadians, have to live in Canada on a full-time basis, which invariably results in the deepening of their ties to the country. At the same time though, they cannot aspire to have any legal connection to the country’s society or economy. Since 2010, live-in caregivers can apply for permanent residence after completing 24 months of work over a four-year period. This makes them better off than the over 300,000 skilled, unskilled and agricultural workers currently in the country on a temporary basis.
Permanent immigrants are a net gain and they contribute to the welfare of the country and the economy. However, temporary immigrants merely live in the country, without forming a family or developing any educational or economic ties with the country. In doing so, they harm themselves and the country too.
On an average, it takes from 6 – 8 years for these temporary workers to become permanent immigrants. Canada needs immigrant workers to meet its shortage of skilled and unskilled labour. Because Canada is an underpopulated country with an ageing population, it makes sense to transform temporary immigrants into permanent ones, thereby helping them rebuild their lives even as they contribute to help the national economy prosper.
Source: The Globe and Mail