OTTAWA—With the Conservative government introducing federal budget legislation that includes changes to the nation’s temporary foreign workers program, Canada’s largest trade organization is calling for transparency in any new framework implemented.
According to Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME), while manufacturers across Canada continue to rely primarily on Canadian talent to meet changing labour demands, temporary foreign workers remain a vital part of the industry’s national employment and economic growth strategies.
The trade and industry organization says half of all manufacturers in Canada are currently experiencing labour or skills shortages, and those numbers are projected to “rise dramatically in every occupational segment” over the next five years.
More than one in three companies say these challenges are already constraining business growth, according to CME.
“The federal TFW program is used by manufacturers most times because they have no other option, often operating in regions where Canadians won’t move and there are no local workers with the necessary skill requirements,” CME president and CEO Jayson Myers said in a statement.
“Let’s be clear: Canadian industry wants to hire Canadians first—not only to be socially responsible, but because hiring foreign workers is much more expensive and a much more complicated process.”
With the federal government now proposing changes to the temporary foreign workers system, Myers maintains it is important that reforms establish mechanisms to allow for maximized speed and flexibility in connecting companies with the workers they need, while providing pathways to citizenship for current temporary foreign workers, as well as to ensure transparency in the new framework.
“TFWs are used because current government programs to supply labour are inadequate, including both the education and immigration systems,” Myers said.
“Any transition from the model we have now must be done to improve Canada’s global competitiveness, and avoid penalizing the companies that are following the rules, creating jobs and driving our economy.”