On April 30th 2015, a new set of regulations would come into effect, changing the present Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) criteria for the Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW). The TFW work permit duration has been shortened and a cap of 10% on hiring low-wage TFWs has been introduced by the federal government. This new change would put many skilled labourers and their employers into lot of discomfort. But the Quebec provincial authorities are the most worried with the changes.
Apart from the two major changes mentioned above, the federal government authorities have asked the Quebec provincial authorities to put in place a transition plan that would help in replacing TFWs with Quebecers. Quebec has sought for further delay in implementing these changes, but it does not seem likely to get a positive response from the federal government.
Quebec’s Unique Need
Immigration, Diversity and Inclusiveness Minister Kathleen Weil told the reporters that Quebec has a shortage of TFWs that needs to be filled urgently and the implementation of the new changes would greatly affect the province’s economy. “The reality of the job market – and I don’t think they’re sensitive to this – we have an ageing, working-age population that’s on the decline”, she said. Quebec currently has about 20,000 TFWs.
Thousands of business establishments from the food and machinery industries that depend heavily on skilled TFWs would be impacted negatively by these new changes. Spokesperson of the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB), Francois Vincent, says he is mystified by the new changes as the employment of the TFWs under the present regulations would help stabilise an industry, thereby creating more employment opportunities for Canadians and Quebecers.
Quebec’s Demand for a Delay
Quebec wants negotiations with Canadian federal government authorities to work out terms that would suit the Quebec market situation. Minister Kathleen has asked for a meeting with Federal Employment Minister Pierre Poilievre.
Kathleen told reporters, “What we’re asking for is that they hold off on the application of this reform until we’ve been able to sit together and have some serious exchanges on its impact”. According to her, the limiting of the duration of the work permit for some TFWs would hurt machinery industries and the 10% cap on low-skilled TFW hiring would hurt the food industries.
Many business leaders are in support of Quebec’s demand as its labor market situation is different from other provinces. According to CFIBs Francois, 50% of the companies that are in Quebec have less than 5 employees. So it would be difficult for those companies to implement the 10% cap.
Canadian Farmers Left Alone
Minister Pierre wishes to remind that the new changes do not impact those who apply under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SWAP) as the labor shortages in this industry is well documented. He adds that the Canadian farmers are also exempt from these changes that include the hike in application fee, the cap on low-wage TFW hiring and the limit on duration of the work permit of a TFW.