Subject: Changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, announced on June 20, 2014
I am writing on behalf of our members to strongly disagree with the changes the government has announced for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. These changes are far-reaching and negative and will undermine the opportunity for businesses to locate, expand or, in some cases, even to survive. Canadian companies and Canadian employees stand to lose as the government makes access temporary foreign labour costly and highly restrictive.
It seems the government has forgotten the intent of the program: to ensure Canadian businesses have the workers they need when and where there are skills or labour shortages on a temporary basis. This still is the most important priority for our members.
Yet, with the changes, it will be costly for employers as the application fee increases from $275 to $1,000 per worker requested. Employers will have to decide if they can pass the cost along to consumers and still stay in business. Restrictions on numbers of temporary foreign workers per employer, per worksite and in areas of high unemployment mean the program may not help the employer with the number of workers needed. Without a sufficient number of workers, an operation may not be viable. Canadian workers may lose employment if additional foreign workers cannot be hired. Canadian businesses may cut back or shut down if locally available workers are not suited to the jobs and access to foreign workers is cut off.
It is hard to imagine a more restrictive and costly set of changes to the program. Clearly there was political pressure for the government to crack down on the abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Instead of penalizing all businesses with these changes, the government should improve its review process and its enforcement of the program’s rules. By respecting the legitimate needs of Canadian business, the government will also serve Canadian workers.
An employer’s first job is to succeed in business. Without business success, there are no jobs and wages, no economic growth, no new tax revenue for governments. Canada’s labour markets at times may require foreign workers—for the sake of Canadian businesses and their employees.
Although we object to most of the numerous changes announced on June 20, we find the cap on TFWs per employer to be a particularly arbitrary and harmful policy. We request the elimination of the cap imposed on employers.
I welcome your action and response on this important issue. Our members believe policy that is good for business is good for communities.