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Four Suggestions for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program

For a few weeks, a Parliamentary committee has been looking closely at the programs which allow Canadian employers to bring in temporary foreign workers to fill vacancies when no Canadian citizens or permanent residents are willing or able to take the jobs.  With regard to the committee’s findings, I have four suggestions:

Remove the 10% cap for low-wage TFWs

The introduction of this cap was to provide an incentive for employers to seek Canadian citizens and permanent residents first before looking outside of our borders for low-wage workers.  As there are already strict rules in place to ensure that such hiring practises are not used, this cap is rather redundant.  Employers are already required to post ads for vacancies and report the number of Canadians and permanent residents who apply, and why they aren’t hired.

Introduce pathways to automatic permanent residency for TFWs

As long as employers can prove the need for a TFW to fill vacancies for more than two years, there should be no reason why low-skilled TFWs can’t be given pathways to permanent residency the way that high-skilled TFWs are.

Changes to the federal immigration system in 2015 also make it harder for foreign students to immigrate to Canada permanently.  Graduating from a Canadian educational institution does not guarantee an easy pathway to permanent residency.  The new system favours foreign student with a government-approved job offer, even though many foreign students have months and years’ worth of Canadian work experience from working while here on a study permit.  If the job offers are not from approved employers, their work experience may be moot.

Canada should be creating more pathways for foreign workers, not setting up roadblocks.  The government should amend the Canadian Experience Class to give more TFWs the ability to pursue permanent residency.

Continuing to enforce TFW rules

Since their announcement of greater enforcement measures two years ago, the government has added a whopping total of four employers to the immigration blacklist.  Does this mean that Canadian employers of foreign workers are extremely law-abiding, or is the government too lax on their rule enforcement?

Back in 2014, the government announced a complete overhaul of the TFW program with specific attention to making Canadian employers aware that Canadian employees cannot have their hours reduced or face layoffs if TFWs are also employed at that location.  Now, two years later, we can see that the number of employers who have ended up on the blacklist do not reflect these strict rules, or, alternatively, virtually no employers have violated the rules.

Clearer guidelines for TFW application assessments

There are some application guidelines that are not currently publically available.  Though these guidelines can be accessed via Access to Information and Privacy Act requests (for a $5.00 processing fee), they should be made available to all employers.

The lack of clarity of the immigration filing system, in combination with the utter lack of customer service, can cause denied applications.  A disambiguation of exactly what is being asked of applicants is necessary, particularly with respect to such lengthy (30 or more pages) immigration applications such as spousal sponsorship applications.

For more on my suggestions, check out my latest CBC article here

*This blog was co-written by Leanne Verreault, immigration legal assistant.



About Reis Pagtakhan

Reis Pagtakhan is an immigration law partner with MLT Aikins LLP. His extensive experience includes assisting businesses obtain temporary entry to Canada and permanent residency for their executives, employees and contractors from all over the world. Reis has lectured on and written papers on immigration law for the Law Society of Manitoba, the Manitoba Bar Association, the Human Resources Management Association of Manitoba, the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association, and the Community Legal Education Association of Manitoba. He has presented position papers before the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Immigration Department officials and Manitoba Labour and Immigration. He has written articles on immigration for the CBC, the Winnipeg Free Press, trade, industry and ethnic publications.


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