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Canada Proposes Changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program

July 2019, 05
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Temporary Foreign Worker Program

On 21 June 2019, the Canadian government gave notification in the official government announcement of a 30-day consultation for potential changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program; it includes occupation-specific work permits.

Mark Chambers, Agriculture Labour Task Force co-chair, said he was amazed the changes had previously made it to the stage where they were ready for printing in the Gazette.

IRCC Suggested Changes

Refugees, Immigration, and Citizenship Canada and Social Development and Employment Canada say they are counting the permits to provide higher labor mobility to international workers, allowing them to leave their organization for a new one in their profession, who are approved to recruit international workers, without the condition to appeal for a new work permit.

International workers are limited to work for only the employer defined on their work permits. They can change companies but require to obtain a new permit.

But Mark Chambers told workers already can move to other employers with an authorized Labour Market Impact Assessment. It’s the I.R.C.C. that sometimes doesn’t give the new permits because it thinks someone unfit for a specific job.

The complete process takes more time, which is the actual problem that should be resolved, he said.

Temporary international workers make up approximately 17% of Canada’s agricultural workforce, and more will be required to keep the sector moving and growing, the round-table heard.

Todd Crawford, who is an economist in Conference Board of Canada, told farmers need to have access to international worker streams especially for critical occupations because the agricultural workforce in  Canada is aging, young people aren’t joining, and most urban individuals aren’t interested in going to rural areas for jobs.

Mark Chambers said unions and labor organizations are driving the changes. The United Commercial and Food Workers have long called for open work permits.

He told the union aims to have all international workers land as permanent residents, but that’s not fundamentally what the workers want, and the program is not designed to do. Rather, it is to provide temporary work or a transition to Canada PR if the worker suits.

Chambers also told the industry was expecting for details of a 03-year pilot program declared in the federal budget that would build a pathway to Canada PR for agricultural workers.

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