Government to unveil reforms to foreign worker program Friday

Changes expected to bring in tougher punishments for companies who abuse program

OTTAWA – The Harper government announces reforms to the controversial temporary foreign worker program on Friday.

The announcement will be made by Employment Minister Jason Kenney and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander at a 1:30 p.m. ET news conference in Ottawa.

A poll commissioned by Ottawa suggested Canadians would be in favour of creating an easier path for workers under the program to remain in the country and even obtain citizenship in order to retain their skills.

Industry groups consulted by Kenney and officials say they believe the key change will be to make it more difficult for firms to bring in workers for unskilled, low-paying jobs, such as in the food-service industry.

As well, news reports have speculated the government might impose a wage floor for TFWs that is higher than the Canadian minimum wage.

One change almost certain to be in the measures is new fines for firms that abuse the system.

Kenney recently told MPs in the House he intended to “severely punish non-compliant employers and prevent distortions in certain regions or industries in the labour market.”

As well, Kenney will likely increase the cost to employers of bringing in temporary workers.

The program has become a hot potato for the Harper government ever since stories of abuses came to light in the news media, including one case where Royal Bank employees were asked to train foreign workers to take over their jobs.

In February, 65 Alberta ironworkers alleged they were let go so that foreign workers could replace them.

The program has become increasingly used by Canadian firms for both high- and low-skilled positions, despite relatively high levels of unemployment and data showing the number of unemployed to vacancies was rising.

A recent government calculation estimated there were 386,000 temporary foreign workers in Canada, or about two per cent of the labour force, up from about 100,000 in 2002.




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Government to unveil reforms to foreign worker program Friday

  1. Hmm, why is it being split into 2?
    International Mobility Program = fast-track program for EUROPEANS and AUSTRALIANS (who btw make up the vast majority of temporary foreign workers)
    These are the real “foreign worker” jobs that Canadians want, who cares about the fast food ones this circus is focusing on. No one wants to work those fast food jobs in the boonies anyways.
    Call it what it is you idiots. This is a race-based, knee-jerk reaction to calm the political bitching. The REAL ISSUE at hand is why are we giving away our HIGHER PAYING, good jobs to EUROPEANS and AUSTRALIANS without a labor market opinion? Because of these so-called “exchange” agreements? There are way more of them coming here for work than Canadians going there (ie. Whistler anyone?). Also for some STRANGE reason the IRISH are getting in much easier compared to other nations… Somebody please look into this and get the facts straight! We are fixing the wrong side of the problem you idiots.

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