Government of Canada Announces a More Efficient and Responsive Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Canada (Photo credit: palindrome6996)

NISKU, ALBERTA, Apr 25, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- The Government of Canada is realigning the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to better meet labour market demands and support the economic recovery. The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, made the announcement today during a tour of Advance Engineered Products Ltd.'s manufacturing facility.
"Our government's top priority is creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. That's why we are taking action to ensure that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program supports our economic recovery and effectively responds to local labour market demands," said Minister Finley. "Our government is looking at ways to make sure businesses recruit from the domestic workforce before hiring temporary foreign workers, while also reducing the paper burden and speeding up the processing time for employers that have short-term skilled labour needs."
Employers with a strong track record will receive an Accelerated-Labour Market Opinion (A-LMO) within 10 business days to hire temporary foreign workers in high-skill occupations, including the skilled trades. The Temporary Foreign Worker Program will become more responsive to skills and labour shortages, employers will have less red tape and temporary foreign workers will benefit from enhanced protections. In addition, the Government of Canada will propose legislative amendments to further strengthen protections for temporary foreign workers and ensure that employers comply with program requirements.
"This improvement is a direct result of consultations that were held with employers to discuss concerns with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, and seek ideas on improving it. Going forward, our government will consider additional measures to strengthen and improve the program, so employers can get skilled workers when no Canadians are available," said the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism. "A fast and flexible economic immigration system combined with a strong Temporary Foreign Worker Program will sustain Canada's economic growth and deliver prosperity for the future."
The Government of Canada will ensure that the employment of temporary foreign workers supports economic growth and helps create more opportunities for all Canadians.
"As North America's premier manufacturer of bulk tank and vac equipment, our company's success relies on the availability of highly skilled tradespeople-particularly welders and trailer mechanics," said Ron Buchhorn, Vice-President of Human Resources at Advance Engineered Products Ltd. "We have been unable to recruit and train enough Canadians for our manufacturing and service facilities throughout western Canada because of the current highly competitive labour market. We strongly support this government initiative to expedite the hiring of skilled workers from other countries."
"Today's announcement by the federal government is welcomed news. This plan addresses industry's immediate needs for skilled labour, but more importantly, by enabling projects to proceed, it fosters economic recovery and growth, while also creating permanent jobs for Canadians for decades to come," said Ron Genereux, chair of the Association for Construction Workforce Acquisition.
Economic Action Plan 2012 also announced that the Government of Canada will work in partnership with the provinces and territories, and other stakeholders, to further improve foreign credential recognition, so that internationally trained workers are able to find meaningful employment and, in turn, contribute to Canada's economy and overall competitiveness.
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Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) jointly administer the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). HRSDC is responsible for issuing Labour Market Opinions (LMOs) to employers, while CIC is responsible for issuing work permits to temporary foreign workers.
The new streamlined, attestation-based model, known as the Accelerated-Labour Market Opinion (A-LMO), will be launched on April 25. The A-LMO will reduce the paper burden on employers, enable LMOs to be issued within 10 business days and strengthen protections for foreign workers through employer compliance reviews.
The new model will feature:
        --  a simplified, online application process;
        --  faster and timelier processing for employers with a good history;
        --  risk-based and random in-depth compliance reviews of employers after
            LMOs are issued;
        --  enhanced automation to reduce paperwork, and improve capacity to track
            compliance and share information; and
        --  call centre support for employers.

Employers will have to consent to post-LMO reviews to verify compliance with the TFWP requirements (e.g. all reasonable efforts to recruit from the domestic labour force, providing wages and working conditions that are consistent with Canadian standards). HRSDC will closely monitor employer compliance and take action when necessary to protect temporary foreign workers.
A new wage structure will also be introduced to provide employers with greater flexibility. Wages that are up to 15% below the average wage for an occupation in a specific region will be accepted; however, employers must clearly demonstrate that the wage is consistent with that of Canadian workers based on Statistics Canada data.
The A-LMO will cover high-skill occupations, including the skilled trades, and will be open to employers across Canada. Through a tested and measured implementation, the A-LMO may gradually be expanded to include risk-based processing for all occupations and components of the TFWP.
While in Canada, temporary foreign workers have the same rights and protections as Canadian workers under applicable federal/provincial employment standards and labour laws.
        Marian Ngo
        Office of Minister Finley
        Media Relations Office
        Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

SOURCE: Canada's Economic Action Plan
Copyright 2012 Marketwire, Inc., All rights reserved. 

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