Canada improves Temporary Foreign Worker Program

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Canadian Ministers Monte Solberg (Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, HRSDC), and Diane Finley (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, CIC) have announced new improvements to the Temporary Foreign Workers program. The program is intended to allow businesses to temporarily hire foreign workers where they cannot find a Canadian resident or citizen to fill vacant positions.

"As part of the Advantage Canada strategy, Canada's New Government is making changes to our Temporary Foreign Worker program to make it faster and easier for Canadian employers to meet their labor force needs," said Solberg. "Employers who have exhausted their search for Canadian workers often need to hire temporary foreign workers to work for a period longer than a year, and today's announcement will allow this to happen."

"The changes will reduce the time that employers have to wait to get the workers they need," said Finley. "As well, extending the time that workers can stay in Canada provides more security and stability to the workers and to the employers."

The Advantage Canada plan is a "national economic plan designed to make Canada a true world economic leader." It was introduced last November with the government-stated objective of increasing the global competitive advantage of Canada in five key areas:

Tax Advantage - reducing taxes for all Canadians and establishing the lowest tax rate on new business investment in the G7

Fiscal Advantage - eliminating Canada's total government net debt in less than a generation

Entrepreneurial Advantage - reducing unnecessary regulation and red tape and increasing competition in the Canadian marketplace

Knowledge Advantage - creating the best-educated, most-skilled and most flexible workforce in the world

Infrastructure Advantage - building the modern infrastructure needed to support growth

According the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), these changes are a welcome first step in alleviating the difficulties faced by small businesses, such as finding workers in an increasingly shrinking labor market.

"With the shortage of labor at an all - time high, foreign workers are a more and more important resource for small businesses trying to deal with the issue," said Catherine Swift, President and CEO of CFIB.

"However, CFIB research found that the immigration and temporary foreign worker process is cumbersome and complicated to navigate. Today's announcement shows the government is listening to small business' concerns and is beginning to address the issues," she added.

The Temporary Foreign Workers program allows employers to hire temporary workers from abroad if no Canadian citizens or permanent residents can be found. Previously, those under the program were required to leave Canada after a 12 month period with the requirement of waiting four months before re-applying. Under the new changes, they are allowed to stay for two years before being required to request an extension.

Even better news for Canadian employers, two additional measures being introduced are designed to make the process more efficient for business owners. Employers will now be able to apply online to HRSDC for a labor market opinion (LMO), which is an assessment of the likely impact a temporary offer of employment will have on the Canadian labor market. They can also, upon request, have CIC and HRSDC process work permits and LMO's concurrently.


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