Some Firms May Benefit From a New Temporary Foreign Worker Pilot Program That Will Expedite Clearances

 The federal government is making it simpler for firms to get temporary foreign employees into Canada by launching a new "recognised employer" programme that would expedite the clearance process for corporations who have a history of hiring foreign labour.

The three-year trial programme is intended to decrease the amount of documentation that businesses must submit to justify hiring foreign personnel.

It is the most recent extension of the temporary foreign worker (TFW) programme, whose use has skyrocketed in the last year as the federal government relaxes limitations on short-term foreign labour. It also coincides with a historic spike in immigration, which is expanding the country's worker supply but simultaneously adding demand to Canada's already overheated housing market and public services.

Randy Boissonnault, the new Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and Official Languages, stated that the TFW programme reform would "cut red tape" and assist businesses in dealing with significant worker shortages.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, which has long advocated for a trusted employer exemption under the TFW programme, hailed the action.

Some labour experts, however, have warned that future expansion of the programme could depress wages in Canada and make identifying corporations that exploit vulnerable workers more difficult.

Companies must currently complete a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) before applying for temporary foreign workers. The LMIA is used to demonstrate that no Canadians or permanent residents are available to fill the position.

Employers who can establish "a history of complying with programme requirements" will be granted three-year approval to bring in temporary foreign employees and will not be required to submit an LMIA before each application under the new system. Eligible firms must have completed three successful LMIAs in the last five years for workers assessed to be "in-shortage," and will be subject to a "more rigorous upfront assessment," according to a government news release.

The pilot program will be available to agricultural enterprises in September, and employers from all other industries will be able to participate beginning in January.

The need for low-wage overseas workers is increasing.

This is the second significant adjustment to the TFW programme in less than a year. The federal government said this spring that businesses could hire up to 20% of their workforce through the program's low-wage stream, up from 10% previously. In addition, in seven areas with severe labour shortages, such as restaurants, construction, and hospitals, the cap was reduced to 30% for a year.

The TFW programme is primarily used to recruit farm labourers. According to numbers issued by Employment and Social Development Canada, which rules on LMIA applications, firms were permitted to hire more than 25,000 workers through farm streams during the first quarter of this year. With over 22,000 approved employment in the first quarter, general farm labourers are by far the most sought-after role in the TFW programme.

However, as Ottawa has relaxed access to foreign labour, firms have increased their recruitment of low-wage foreign workers. Companies were permitted to fill around 22,000 posts through the program's low-wage stream in the first quarter, a nearly 275% rise over the previous year. Cooks are the No. 2 most in-demand occupation, with approximately 3,000 posts granted from January to March. Truck drivers, restaurant counter attendants, and personnel in seafood plants are also in high demand.

The move was welcomed by Diana Palmerin-Velasco, senior director of the future of work at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, who said it might boost access to the TFW programme for smaller firms.

Mikal Skuterud, a University of Waterloo economics professor, questioned the government's reasoning for expanding the programme. The Canadian employment market has been unusually tight over the last year and a half, with demand for workers exceeding supply. However, job opportunities have been declining in recent months, while the unemployment rate has climbed.

According to recent studies on temporary foreign employees, they tend to restrict wage increases inside enterprises that employ them. "As a result, we're in a time where real wages for low-skilled employees in this nation aren't rising. According to the most recent data, they are diminishing. "And so it all boils down to where this government's priorities are," he explained.


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