In light of the recent changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker
(TFW) program, contributors from the Maytree Foundation and the
Mowat Centre at the University of Toronto's School of Public
Policy and Governance are looking for solutions to ensure the TFW
program is used appropriately.
Employment and Social Development Minister Jason Kenney recently
announced a number of systematic changes to the TFW program,
partially as a result of controversy over the program in recent
changes to the program include a revamped Labour Marke Impact
Assessment (LMIA) process for identifying when it is necessary to
hire foreign workers, increased penalties for abuse of the TFW
program, and restricted access for employers to ensure that
temporary foreign workers are used only as a last and limited
While many are lauding the changes made by Kenney as important
steps forward for the accountability and transparency of the
program, many are still raising concerns about Canadians losing
jobs to temporary foreign workers and questioning the necessity of
Matthew Mendelsohn of the Mowat Center at the School of Public
Policy & Governance at the University of Toronto and Ratna
Omidvar of the Maytree Foundation have been working on this very
issue, and recently completed a mass consultation project on the
Canadian labour market. Mendelsohn and Omidvar interviewed 80
experts across Canada from a variety of backgrounds, including
small and large employers, government employees, immigrant
settlement agencies, and industry associations and drew a number of
conclusions about Canada's labour market. After this
consultation, Mendelsohn and Omidvar were able to make four major
recommendations to improve Canadian labour market practices, which
would affect the frequency with which employers sought out
temporary foreign workers:
When processing a Labour Market Opinion (LMO), now known as a
Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), the federal government
should be required to consult with the provincial employment
agencies as part of the approval process. Mendelsohn and
Omidvar pointed to Manitoba as an excellent example of this
practice, where employers looking for an LMO are linked to
unemployed and underemployed Canadians to consider for the position
before turning to a temporary foreign worker.
Local businesses should make use of local and provincial
employment agencies to link individuals in the community with
employers looking to hire. This would require provincial
employment agencies to act in a human resources capacity for
businesses to decrease unemployment.
Locally based labour market information should be developed and
employers, employment agencies, and the government should all be
sharing this information. Many companies already create their
own labour market information for their industries, and the
government and other employers could be benefiting from this
Employment ads and employers should be using competency based
language to clarify the skills that are needed for a particular
job. The implementation of this recommendation would also
lead to better labour market information.
The goal of these recommendations is to ensure that jobs in
Canada are not going to temporary foreign workers when
underemployed or unemployed Canadians are seeking work in Canada.
If these recommendations were implemented and Canadians were
being matched to available jobs, it would ensure that the temporary
foreign worker program remained a program of last and limited
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