TORONTO—The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has called for the federal government to replace the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).
CFIB’s newly-released report proposes an Introduction to Canada Visa—geared towards entry-level workers—which would address critical shortages for small businesses while providing a clear path to permanent residence for foreign workers.
“Canada was built by people who decided to take a chance, come here, and work hard to make a new life for themselves and their families,” said CFIB president Dan Kelly. “The Introduction to Canada Visa would open up those opportunities once again. You shouldn’t need a PhD to live the Canadian Dream.”
CFIB says endless controversy around the TFWP brought on ill-advised changes which have cut off a so-called “vital lifeline” for many employers and largely barred from the program employers in the restaurant, retail and hotel sectors in much of the country.
“One of the legitimate criticisms of the TFW program is that it was often employing temporary workers to fill permanent labour market needs,” added Kelly. “Given the massive cost of turn-over, small businesses would much rather hire someone who is not temporary, but the permanent immigration system largely prohibits anyone with more junior skill sets. We need workers at all skill levels, including for entry-level jobs, and that need isn’t going away.”
CFIB’s proposed new visa would give foreign workers in entry-level categories an opportunity to work with an employer for two years as a defined step towards permanent residency. Other features include:
CFIB has also challenged the assumptions that employers are using foreign workers as a source of cheap labour, claiming almost 70 per cent of small business owners who have used the TFWP say it costs them more than hiring Canadian workers.
In addition to the Introduction to Canada Visa, the report recommends other options, including allowing current applicants for permanent residency to stay until processing is complete, recalibrating the new $1,000 fee, allowing more flexibility for restaurants, retailers and hotels, and dropping the target for a 10% workforce cap on foreign workers.
Read the full report, Time for a Reality Check, here.