Chambers Share Disappointment Following Changes to Government Program

Jun 24, 2014 | Chamber News, Corporate Member News

On June 20, sweeping changes were announced to restrict the use and increase the cost of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.  In the wake of the announced changes, the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce and Canadian Chamber of Commerce continue to express their disappointment in the Harper Government’s decision. The changes to the program are also leading to the Canadian Chamber to prepare ways for you to have your voice heard on the matter (Access the complete document of changes).

It is hard to imagine a more restrictive and costly set of changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. After digesting all the changes, we were left with one over-riding question: Has the government fully estimated the effects of these decisions on Canadian businesses and the economy?

For example:

  • The Labour Market Opinion (LMO) application fee has increased from $275 to $1,000. Employers will have to decide if they can pass the cost along to consumers and still stay in business.
  • Employers will have a quota of TFWs they cannot exceed. If an employer cannot find the workers he needs, why will the government help him to only partly solve his problem?
  • The new policy will restrict TFWs in areas of high unemployment. Banning TFWs doesn’t make locally available workers more suited to the jobs.

Everything in Friday’s announcement suggests the government wants this program to be as restrictive as possible. But, we should remember the program was invented to ensure Canadian businesses had access to the workers they need. This still is the most important priority.

Everyone is aware of the political pressure the government is under to crack down on the abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, but what’s good politics may not be good policy. Instead of penalizing all businesses, the government should improve its review process and its enforcement of the program’s rules. By respecting the legitimate needs of Canadian business, the government will also serve Canadian workers.

An employer’s first job is to succeed in business. Without business success, there are no jobs and wages, no economic growth, no new tax revenue for governments. Canada’s labour markets require foreign workers—for the sake of Canadian businesses and their employees.

We would like the government to rescind the cap imposed on employers in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and we need your support. We encourage you to write your MP and to copy Minister Kenney. Here is a template letter, with space for you to add any local specifics.

If you happen to see your local MP during the summer, here are some talking points to raise with him/her.

To demonstrate to the government the negative impact these changes are having on Canadian businesses, please share any examples by identifying the kind of company and its geographic location; we don’t need to identify companies by name. You can email these reports to Sarah Anson-Cartwright, Director of Skills Policy with the Canadian Chamber, at [email protected].

If you have any questions or require more information, please contact Sarah Anson-Cartwright, Director, Skills Policy, at [email protected] or at 613.238.4000 (236).

For your information, what follows is a list of the major changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program:

  • Fees rise from $275 per application per TFW to $1,000 per application (LMOs are now called LMIAs)
  • Fee revenue will pay for a host of new spending on investigations and enforcement
  • TFW caps will apply per employer
  • The province median wage will be the defining criterion for high-wage versus low-wage positions in the program; occupations are no longer as relevant
  • TFWs cannot be renewed; a new application for an LMIA is required after one year for low-wage positions
  • Two years is the maximum period for each TFW to be in Canada
  • The former LMO-based portion of the TFW program is now the new TFWP, administered by Employment and Social Development Canada
  • The stream of the LMO-exempt categories is now called the International Mobility Programs (IMPs), administered by Citizenship and Immigration Canada
  • With this announcement, the government ends the moratorium on the food services sector, effective immediately

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