Canada’s temporary foreign worker program fills a need, protects other jobs, business leader says

posted on April 21, 2014

By Kelly Sinoski, Vancouver Sun | Link to Article

By Kelly Sinoski, Vancouver Sun | Link to Article

Dan Kelly, president and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, responded Monday to complaints against the federal temporary foreign worker program, saying foreigners are integral to helping small businesses survive and address labour shortages. Kelly, speaking in Vancouver, said “recent stories have unfairly cast all businesses that use the TFWP in a very negative light” when they are meant to address labour shortages across Canada. This is excerpted from an interview with The Vancouver Sun.

Q: Why are foreign workers so important to small business?

A: The two main reasons are that there are regions of the country and also sectors of the economy that are really short of available of workers. We’re finding, for example, that there are few domestic workers available in the restaurant, hospitality, hotels and the service sector. If you’re trying to find people to work in Fort McMurray or Whistler it can be very hard because there’s not a lot of young people there.

Q:Where is the biggest need for temporary foreign workers?

A: This is the new phenomena in Canada that we’re finding. There are sectors of the economy going begging for workers; the biggest are quick-service restaurant and hotels. People aren’t lining up around the door to clean hotel rooms. It’s hard work and it’s not glamorous. But it can be in any sector, skilled trades or highly skilled. The ones creating a hot button are the ones in quick service restaurants.

Q:Why can’t we get Canadians to do those jobs?

A: Those are the jobs (for which) historically young people have been the largest source of workers. We don’t have that many young people in Canada as a segment of the population any longer. We have among the highest level of post-secondary (education) in the world. Young people are saying ‘I just spent $40,000 on a fine arts degree, I don’t want to go work at a local pizza place. (Temporary foreign workers) are often very willing to take the shifts Canadians don’t want to work.

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