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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Temporary Foreign Worker Program

The hospitality industry in Alberta, for example, relies heavily on temporary foreign workers. One out of every five full-time employees in the hotel industry across Alberta are temporary foreign workers, according to a survey conducted by the Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA).

"There are businesses that wouldn't be able to operate without the component of temporary foreign workers and that would jeopardize jobs for Canadians that are there," said Dave Kaiser, president of AHLA.

Twenty-eight per cent of its members employ foreign workers under the program and 44 per cent plan to hire more within the next two years, he adds, noting there are added costs associated with bringing them in.

"It's not a cheap labour solution," Kaiser said. "It's been an onerous process over the course of time. The rules keep changing."

Moran stresses the importance of sourcing local talent as the key strategy, followed by expanding that nationally. However, when that fails, it's clear the TFWP is essential to providing companies of all sizes and in all sectors with an important pool of workers.

Truscott, meanwhile, said the federal government's recent changes have hit small business particularly hard. They include the elimination of the accelerated part of the program for certain skilled labour jobs; the elimination of wage flexibility in terms of how much foreign workers are paid; advertising longer and more broadly across Canada; and, the requirement of all businesses to create a transition plan back to a fully Canadian-staffed workforce.

"This whole new transition plan is another pile of paperwork that businesses have to go through," said Truscott. "There are some jobs within the economy that Canadians clearly don't seem interested in."

He also credits the Alberta government for launching some pilot projects targeting the food service industry and an accelerated option for some skilled workers. However, he says there is an abundant supply of foreign workers ready and willing to fill those roles.