Temporary foreign workers: Businesses needing skilled workers sideswiped by changes

posted on July 23, 2014

By Susana Mas, CBC News | Link to Article

By Susana Mas, CBC News | Link to Article

Canadian employers who use the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to hire high-skilled workers say they have been sideswiped by changes intended to curb abuses of the program by businesses that employ low-skilled workers in the fast-food sector.

Employers must now pay $1,000 for every temporary foreign worker they want to hire and pass a more rigorous labour market impact assessment test to prove the need to hire a foreign worker over a Canadian, under new rules announced in June. The government introduced a $275 fee last year, but there was no fee prior to April 2013.

Representatives in the film and TV industry were recently told work permits for foreign actors and directors would be issued in a timely manner, while employers who hire foreign musicians were exempted from the new rules. Employers looking to hire low-skilled workers in the seafood industry, however, have had no such luck.

Groups in the tourism, health, tech and business community are also complaining they have been inadvertently targeted by the changes announced by Employment Minister Jason Kenney and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander.

David Lynn, the president and CEO of the Canada West Ski Areas Association, told CBC News he wrote to Kenney after his members were “blindsided” by the new rules.

“The number of changes and the magnitude of those changes shocked most people in the business community,” Lynn said from Whistler on Tuesday.

“We feel the government should deal directly with people that are abusing the program and not institute a series of draconian changes that impact all of the people adversely, including those people who use the program responsibly.”

According to Lynn, his members hire approximately 500 temporary foreign workers over a typical ski season and the $1,000 fee is putting at risk an industry that is already struggling to break even.

In a letter to his members, Lynn said he asked Kenney to consider the “major adverse impact” the new rules are having on the ski and tourism industries in Western Canada.

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