Monday, December 16, 2013

Temporary Foreign Workers

Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP)

The Canadian Government had announced in the Economic Action Plan of 2013 that there were plans in the place to make reforms to the Temporary Foreign Workers program (TFWP). This wasn’t expected in the near future however because typically government decisions aren’t made very quickly. On April 29th word came down from the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development  and the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism that they were announcing the changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers program.
There have been two situations that have spurred these changes to the TFWP within the last year. The first cause is from British Columbia this past fall. A Chinese company called HD mining was planning to import as many as 200 workers from China to mine a proposed project. When Canadians caught wind of this they were not pleased, and so the Government started to have a look at the Temporary Foreign Workers policy with the intent to revise.
In April this year, the Canadian public was outraged over the displacement of 45 Canadian employees to be replaced with 45 Temporary Foreign Workers. RBC has since issued a public apology and says it is making plans to provide these 45 resident employees with employment in Canada, but people have asked when is it going to stop?
The original intent of the TFW program was to fill the labour shortage gaps in Canada temporarily until Canadian workers could be found to fill the positions. Canadian citizens are starting to wonder if Canadian companies have begun to abuse this program and are just bringing in Temporary Foreign Workers right away because they are cheaper work and keep wages and benefits low.
Not all of the changes are to take place immediately, but there are a couple changes that will be implemented effective immediately. These changes are:
-          Employers are required to pay Temporary Foreign Workers at the prevailing wage rate by removing the 5- 15% wage flexibility
-          The Accelerated Labour Market Opinion (LMO) process has been suspended
Other changes that will come into effect down the road are:
-          An increase in the Government’s authority to suspend and revoke work permits and Labour Market Opinions (LMOs) if the program is being misused.
-          Questions will be added to the employer LMO application to ensure that the TFWP is not used to facilitate the outsourcing of Canadian jobs
-          Ensure employers who rely on Temporary Foreign Workers have a firm plan in place to transition to a Canadian workforce over time through the LMO process
-          Introduce fees for employers for the processing of LMOs and increase the fees for work permits so that the taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the costs
-          Identify English and French as the only languages that can be used as a job requirement

The changes that were announced on April 29th have calmed some of the outrage, but not all of it. There is still the issue of the 300,000 plus Temporary Foreign Workers who are currently in Canada. The percentage of migrant workers in Canada has increased by a staggering 70% in the past 5 years 
So what will these changes actually mean for employers and business owners?
-          Increased costs due to higher fees and higher wages for Temporary Foreign Workers
-          Lengthier processing times due to suspension of Accelerated LMOs
-          Approvals will be harder to obtain as employers now have to provide a plan for replacing the TFWs with Canadian workers
For more information on recruitment best practices, assistance with your recruitment and outplacement needs; contact us at .
Lee-Anne Vandenberg
HR & Safety Consultant
Beyond Rewards

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