Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is opening up Canada to an increase in temporary foreign workers in a controversial experiment aimed at relieving the country’s overheated economy.
Starting today (Saturday), the federal government will ease restrictions on hiring low-wage workers from abroad, changes that could attract thousands of additional migrant workers.
The move adds to an intense effort to boost immigration to fill record-high job vacancies as the country grapples with one of the tightest job markets in decades.
But critics warn that the changes will depress wages and undermine incentives for companies to make productivity-boosting investments, while expanding a program accused of leaving foreign workers vulnerable to exploitation.
“The challenge is finding the balance between meeting labor market needs and ensuring workers are protected within the program itself,” said Canadian Labor Minister Carla Qualtrough.
The government will allow employers to increase the proportion of their workforce coming from the Temporary Foreign Worker Program if they can prove that no workers in Canada want the jobs. Sectors suffering from severe labor shortages, including manufacturing, retail, hotels and hospitality, will see the cap for low-wage positions raised to 30 percent of their workforce. The cap for other sectors will be increased to 20 percent. Both limits are currently increasing from 10 pieces.
The new rules complement changes introduced earlier this month that permanently removed all caps on foreign workers in “seasonal industries” like seafood processing, while allowing workers to stay longer in Canada.
The ramp-up of the migrant worker program comes as employers across the country struggle to find staff, with the unemployment rate falling in the last month to its lowest level since at least the mid-1970s. The lack of available labor is fueling inflation and is one of the main reasons why the Bank of Canada is attempting to contain inflation with aggressive rate hikes.
Since September, total employment in Canada has risen 2.4 percent, outpacing the 0.8 percent increase in the working-age population and highlighting the potential mismatch between labor supply and demand, according to Statistics Canada.
All of the country’s employment gains over the past decade have come from workers who were not native to the country.
“Right now there’s nobody to hire,” said Marie-France MacKinnon, vice president of the Canadian Meat Council, whose latest survey found more than 10,000 open positions for butchers, a fivefold increase from 2018.
“Not just us, because there are a variety of industries currently facing the same dilemma.”
However, Canada’s regular immigration system is already teetering under ambitious targets, forcing the government to allocate billions just to process and settle new permanent residents.
Mr Trudeau has promised to attract more than 1.3 million new arrivals over the next three years, a record.
The temporary worker program currently represents a small portion of the country’s nonimmigrant workforce, which totals about 600,000 people, mostly working foreign students currently working in Canada and other international worker programs. Just over 100,000 temporary permits were issued last year.
The majority went to men from Latin America and the Caribbean.
Canada has tried to keep the program small because it is extremely controversial.
https://www.independent.ie/business/world/canada-loosens-visa-rules-to-allow-more-temporary-foreign-workers-41601762.html Canada is relaxing visa requirements to allow more temporary foreign workers