MP REPORT: Guidelines exist for foreign workers

Colin Mayes says the federal government has introduced legislation that will ensure the program mandate is clear.

The temporary foreign workers program has been in place for some time now. In the past, the prime users of this program were those in the agricultural sector.

Temporary foreign workers were mostly hired from outside of Canada to help pick produce as most Canadians were not willing to do these types of jobs.

Today’s challenge is with our aging demographics.  There is, in Canada, a huge growth in our resource sector making demands on our labour market supply. The temporary foreign workers program now has 340,000 foreign workers in Canada, and 90 per cent are located in the three western provinces.

The program guidelines were clear: Canadians have first crack at the jobs, but if a process was followed that proved there were no Canadians willing or trained for the job, a temporary foreign worker could be employed.

Unfortunately, there are always some people that play on the edges. Abuses of the program have been brought to light.

The program has always been closely monitored and very few abuses have been found.  But, to eliminate any abuse, we have added stricter guidelines.

Your government has introduced legislation that will ensure the program mandate is clear.

No foreign worker will be paid less than the Canadian wage level for their particular skill. The legislation will increase the government’s authority to suspend or revoke work permits and labour market opinions, if the program is misused.

The program cannot be used to facilitate outsourcing of Canadian jobs. We will restrict English and French as the only languages that can be identified as a job requirement.

Finally, we will charge fees for applications so taxpayers are not paying for the processing of these labour market opinions and the program that will benefit the employer.

Those companies that are using temporary foreign workers must have a plan in place to eliminate their reliance on temporary foreign workers and fill positions with Canadians seeking employment as soon as possible.

This will help forward our government’s Canada job grant program to help prepare Canadians for the job demands of today’s economy.