Much needed changes to Temporary Foreign Worker Program are in place

Written by on August 22, 2013 in Employment Law Blog
Global Workers

On August 7, 2013, Minister of Employment and Social Development, Jason Kenney, announced reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) that are designed to ensure that Canadians are given first priority for available jobs, to reduce the load on taxpayers for processing employer applications for the TFWP as well as ensure the TFWP is used as originally intended, which is to fill the need of skills shortages on a temporary basis. These changes will not apply to the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program which covers on-farm primary occupations. Last June the government went as far as changing immigration and refugee protection regulations that allow some federal officials to walk into workplaces without a warrant to ensure the rules are adhered to, although places of employment that are also private residences are exempt. In an attempt to address the concerns of rising unemployment the federal government brought in new regulations eliminating “wage flexibility”.

The following are the major changes taking place under the reform:

  • Processing fee of $275 per worker position requested through a labour market opinion, which has been criticized for being too low and still leading to the exploitation of migrant workers who often are paid much lower and are too vulnerable to complain;
  • Only two official languages (English and French) are to be identified as a job requirement in advertising for Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) opinion applications with exceptions of rare circumstances where the necessity of another language can be demonstrated as an essential requirement for the job, such as translators, or tour guides;
  • The length of advertising requirement in Canada doubles to four weeks with use of two additional methods of recruitment beyond the national Job Bank;
  • Additional questions ensuring that TFWP is not used to outsource Canadian jobs are added to the application.

Further changes such as increasing the government’s authority to revoke permits as well as to suspend, revoke and refuse to process Letters of Market Opinion, and ensuring that employers have a plan of transition for TFWs into the Canadian workforce, are still expected as part of the ongoing reforms of the TFWP.

For further updates please visit Employment and Social Development Canada.

Lessons for Employees

These reforms bring much needed attention to this important issue and show the government recognizes the need for changes to the TFWP to reflect its very purpose, which is to support the Canadian economy while providing fair opportunity and protection to both Canadian and Foreign employees. These reforms also highlight the need for employees to seek legal protection that is available through various legal and non-for-profit organizations.

Lessons for Employers

Employers are reminded to use the programs available to them with the primary purpose in mind, which is to support the Canadian employment market and economy while ensuring fair employment practices. Employers using loopholes in the program will inevitably be faced with legal battles and costs, not to mention bad publicity that will tarnish the employer’s reputation. To ensure proper compliance with the laws, prevention is the best course of action. Teaming up with a trusted, specialized legal professional team is critical in preventing costly legal disasters.

Minken Employment Lawyers is your Canadian source for expert Employment Law advice and advocacy on today’s employment law issues. Whether you are an employer or employee, we can help. Contact us to see how.

See also our blog article, “Temporary Foreign Worker Program Remains in the Spotlight”.

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