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Canada Reforms Temporary Foreign Worker Rules

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | June 23, 2014 4:19 PM EST

Canada has declared a reform of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program that seeks to prevent employers in regions where unemployment is high from hiring foreign workers. The revamped law likewise seeks to limit the number of workers employers can hire.

REUTERS/Stringer
Workers install the chassis along a production line at a truck factory of Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Co. Ltd (JAC Motors) in Hefei, Anhui province May 5, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

The limited access to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) will thus ensure Canadians get first dibs for the available jobs in the country.

"We will better prevent and detect abuse and penalize employers who abuse the program," Employment Minister Jason Kenney and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said over the weekend. "We will severely sanction those who break the rules. We'll better protect foreign workers and we'll also recognize that Canada benefits from international mobility."

Moreover, the reforms will ensure the TFWP is only used as intended, "as a last and limited resort to fill acute labour shortages on a temporary basis when qualified Canadians are not available."

Reforms to the programme include:

  • Barring employers from hiring low-wage temporary foreign workers in regions where the unemployment rate is above six per cent.
  • A cap of 10 per cent on the number of low-wage temporary foreign workers employers can hire per work site by 2016.
  • The cap will be gradually phased in, starting at 30 per cent effective immediately, then reduced to 20 per cent on July 1, 2015, and 10 per cent a year later in 2016.
  • An increase in the number of inspections: one in four employers will be inspected each year. The government says it will hire approximately 20 more inspectors, bringing the number to about 60.
  • An increase from $275 to $1,000 in the application fee employers must pay per worker requested, effective immediately.
  • Fines of up to $100,000, starting in fall, for employers who abuse the programme.
  • Additional funding for the Canada Border Services Agency so it can pursue more criminal investigations.

A report by the CBC News said the following will likewise be inserted in the new rules:

  • Publishing employers' names who were given permission to hire foreign workers.
  • Publishing the number of positions approved through the programme on a quarterly basis.
  • Reducing the amount of time a temporary foreign worker can be employed in Canada, to two years from four.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Stringer / )
Workers install the chassis along a production line at a truck factory of Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Co. Ltd (JAC Motors) in Hefei, Anhui province May 5, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer
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