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New measures aim to toughen Canada’s foreign worker program




Tobi Cohen

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POstmedia News

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OTTAWA — More details have emerged about new measures to improve Canada’s temporary foreign worker program.

The federal government indicated Wednesday that employers are now required to advertise positions in Canada for at least four weeks, instead of two, before they can apply to hire foreigners.

They will also have to complete a series of questions related to “impacts on the Canadian labour market,” and obtain a positive labour market opinion, showing there are no Canadian workers available to do the job, before the government will grant a temporary foreign worker permit.

“Our government’s No. 1 priority remains jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity,” Employment and Social Development Minister Jason Kenney said Wednesday in a statement. “These additional reforms help ensure that Canadians are first in line for available jobs.”

In addition to increasing the length of time an employer must post a job, the new rules also expand the breadth of postings. Now employers will have to use at least two other recruitment methods besides government job banks, one of which must be national in scope if hiring for a high-skilled position. Employers seeking to fill low-skill jobs, like those in the food service industry, will still have to show they’ve tried to recruit under-represented Canadian residents like youth and people with disabilities.

The new questions on the labour market opinion application specifically ask whether the hiring of temporary foreign workers will result in job losses to Canadians “now or in the foreseeable future,” due to layoffs, outsourcing or offshoring. It also asks about contractual arrangements that may facilitate outsourcing or offshoring, what impact the foreign workers might have on Canadian employees and what the company has done in the previous two years to hire and train Canadians and permanent residents to do the job.

The measures took effect on July 31, along with a new $275 processing fee for each labour market opinion and new language restrictions, both of which were previously posted in the Canada Gazette.

The new questions aim to address a recent incident involving the Royal Bank of Canada. Bank employees found themselves training foreigners to replace them after their jobs were outsourced to foreign workers by a contractor hired to handle IT services.

The number of temporary foreign workers has also ballooned over the last seven years, doubling to 340,000 as of December 2012. This, and the RBC incident, have led many to question the logic of hiring foreigners when so many Canadians are unemployed.



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