OTTAWA — The moratorium on Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program has ended and new rules have been unveiled, but the changes are being met with some disappointment in restaurant and hotel industries.
Last week, Jason Kenney, the employment and social development minister, and Chris Alexander, the citizen and immigration minister, announced an “overhaul” of the program, which limits access to the program, tightens the labour market assessment and implements tougher penalties for employers who break the rules.
With the moratorium over, an employer can fill previously suspended positions that are tied to an approved Labour Market Opinion (LMO), unless it expired during the suspension. New applications will be subject to new program requirements, including a cap on TFWs in low-wage occupations. The fee is also increasing from $275 to $1,000 for every TFW position requested by an employer. Employers with 10 or more employees applying for a new, more rigorous Labour Market Impact Assessment are subject to a cap of 10 per cent on the proportion of their workforce that can consist of low-wage temporary foreign workers.
Restaurants Canada is calling the program updates “cost-prohibitive” to restaurant employers. “In areas of the country where restaurant owners cannot find enough Canadian workers, there will be business casualties that will put Canadians out of a job. The significantly higher costs for restaurateurs will also force them to raise menu prices for customers. It’s a no-win situation,” said Garth Whyte, president and CEO of Restaurants Canada.
Employers in areas of high unemployment (more than six per cent), are also no longer able to request TFWs to fill the lowest-wage, lowest-skill, entry-level occupations in the foodservice, accommodation and retail sectors.
The Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) says linking employment rates to the program isn’t the right solution for the labour gap. “While the Hotel Association of Canada welcomes the lifting of the moratorium and greater program accountability the rest of today’s news is exceedingly discouraging, “ said Tony Pollard, president of HAC. “For the lodging industry, whose business model is based on low margins, these program changes will have dramatic, immediate and negative effects. We are disappointed that the program has been altered in this way when it is critical to the lodging industry’s operations and to Canadian tourism as a whole.”
More information on the program updates can be found at esdc.gc.ca.