Canadian Manufacturing

Liberals hunt for middle ground on revamp of foreign worker program

The previous Conservative government overhauled the program in 2014


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CALGARY—Federal Immigration Minister John McCallum expects a report next month on a revamp to the temporary foreign worker program.

McCallum says the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources should be ready to present its report to Parliament in September.

The previous Conservative government overhauled the program in 2014 by phasing in a 10 per cent cap on the number of temporary foreign workers most businesses can hire.

It also disallowed the program in regions of Canada with high unemployment.

The reforms followed a number of controversies that dogged the program, including reports of fast-food franchise restaurants favouring temporary foreign workers over local employees.

McCallum said in Calgary that the program at first approved virtually everybody until “everything exploded” and it was cut back to a point where hardly anyone was getting in.

In areas such as Alberta, he said, there’s a strong demand for temporary foreign workers in the agriculture, hospitality and meat-packing sectors.

“What we are seeking to find is a middle ground where there are legitimate needs for temporary foreign workers in certain areas, certain industries,” the minister said Friday.

“As well, we want to have a pathway to permanent residency for those temporary foreign workers. I think there is a pretty strong consensus to find a middle ground.”


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