Improvements to Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program were announced on 24 September 2007 that will make it faster for employers in British Columbia and Alberta to hire foreign workers.
The program is designed to help employers fill positions when qualified Canadians cannot be found. The program is jointly administered by the Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC) and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).
The new improvements are being implemented as a test project in British Columbia and Alberta and will allow eligible employers who need workers in 12 specific occupations to receive their Labour Market Opinions (LMO) in three to five days.
Under Canadian immigration regulations, HRSDC is required to provide an LMO to Citizenship and Immigration (CIC) or to an employer on the likely impact hiring a foreign worker will have on the Canadian labour market. In the past, an LMO could take up to five months.
"Hiring temporary foreign workers is an important way for employers in British Columbia to address increasing labour shortages and remain competitive in our global economy," said Colin Hansen, B.C. Minister of Economic Development.
The 12 occupations, identified as being in high demand in Canada, are as follows:
- Crane Operators
- Hotel and Hospitality Room Attendants
- Hotel Front Desk Clerks
- Food and Beverage Servers
- Food Counter Attendants
- Tour and Travel Guides
- Registered Nurses
- Dental Technicians
- Snowboard and ski instructors and
- Retail Sales Persons and Sales Clerks
To qualify for the test project, employers must meet certain conditions. These include making reasonable efforts to find qualified Canadians or permanent residents, not having any labor disputes in progress at the employer's workplace, and that working conditions, including pay, meet minimum standards.
In addition to the test project, the federal government and British Columbia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will strengthen protections for temporary foreign workers. A similar agreement with Alberta was announced in July.
Monte Solberg, Canadian Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, said that "we want to ensure measures are in place to protect foreign workers from exploitation or unsafe working conditions."
Canada's will spend CAD $50.5 million over two years on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. The allowance was to reduce processing delays, and respond more effectively to regional labour and skill shortages, so employers could better meet their human resource needs.
"I'm very glad to hear that construction is one of the sectors covered by the pilot," said Keith Sashaw, President of the Vancouver Regional Construction Association. "Speeding up the process will really help the construction industry in Vancouver."