Temporary Foreign Worker Program Under Fire

It is no secret that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) is under attack.  Personally, it is a concern that the government has suspended a significant part of the TFWP based on allegations that a small number businesses have allegedly abused the TFWP (at this point, the claims remain allegations, although it seems likely that some abusers will be exposed).  Why do the legitimate businesses – by far the majority – have to suffer the same fate as the alleged abusers?  Would the government suspend a significant part of the EI program if it received allegations of EI fraud?  If, as many claim, the concern is about abuse of vulnerable workers, why the action to suspend part of the program that allows the foreign workers to be here.  Again, why not focus on tackling the abusive employers?  My concern is the signal, based on the shrill public and media outcry, that there is sinking tolerance for foreigners in Canada.

Effective immediately all food service sector classifications have been suspended from the TFWP (including for Labour Market Opinion applications (LMOs) that have already been filed).  Please see below for the list of job codes that have been suspended.

Employers that have submitted applications and paid the processing fee, but have not yet received an LMO, will be refunded the full processing fee.  Also, any unused positions on positive LMOs that have been issued to employers for these classifications will be suspended and therefore will no longer be able to be used to obtain a worker permit.

The bad news does not stop there.  Jason Kenney, Minister of Economic and Social Development Canada (ESDC), said on Tuesday that more changes are in underway.  He said that ESDC (formerly HRSDC) will gain further audit powers as part of the government's ongoing reform of the program.  Using the new rules that went into effect at the end of 2013, which gave federal officials authority to perform unannounced spot-checks in workplaces to make sure employers are meeting the conditions of the program, the government intends to expand ESDC’s powers to go into worksites, unannounced, to inspect paperwork, interview managers and workers, and otherwise investigate to uncover of abuse.  Kenny also said the government has been working on another set of reforms which will be announced in the next two weeks or so.

Meanwhile, the NDP is pushing its motion calling for an urgent audit of the TFWP by Canada’s auditor general. The TFWP has long been a target of the unions and other advocates who do not appreciate that the issue of unemployment is far more complex than the simple equation:  unemployed Canadians = temporary foreign workers employed in Canada.  Reducing the numbers of temporary foreign workers may make a very minor impression on the unemployment rate, but it will weaken our tax base and competitiveness, increase costs for business and investment, and have an overall detrimental impact, especially later when our boomer generation has completely retired.

6641 Food Counter Attendants, Kitchen Helpers and Related Occupations

0631 Restaurant and Food Service Managers

6212 Food Service Supervisors

6453 Food and Beverage Servers

6611 Cashiers

6241 Chefs

6242 Cooks

6252 Bakers

0611 Sales, Marketing and Advertising Managers

0621 Retail Trade Manager

0632 Accommodation Service Managers

0651 Other Services Managers

6211 Retail Trade Supervisors

6213 Executive Housekeepers

6214 Dry Cleaning and Laundry Supervisors

6215 Cleaning Supervisors

6216 Other Service Supervisors

6221 Technical Sales Specialists - Wholesale Trade

6251 Butchers, Meat Cutters and Fishmongers - Retail and Wholesale

6411 Sales Representatives - Wholesale Trade (Non-Technical)

6421 Retail Salespersons and Sales Clerks

6451 Maîtres d'hôtel and Hosts/Hostesses

6452 Bartenders

6484 Other Personal Service Occupations

6622 Grocery Clerks and Store Shelf Stockers

6623 Other Elemental Sales Occupations

6651 Security Guards and Related Occupations

6661 Light Duty Cleaners

6662 Specialized Cleaners

6663 Janitors, Caretakers and Building Superintendents

6681 Dry Cleaning and Laundry Occupations

6682 Ironing, Pressing and Finishing Occupations

6683 Other Elemental Service Occupations

We will keep you posted.

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