Quebec Seeks Delay For Changes To Temporary Foreign Worker Program

April 20, 2015 News
Immigration minister Kathleen Weil is listening to recommendations aimed at reforming the province’s immigration system.

Immigration minister Kathleen Weil is listening to recommendations aimed at reforming the province’s immigration system.

Quebec is seeking a delay on the application of changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, but the federal government does not appear to be willing to play ball.

Changes to the program announced last June would make it harder for Quebec businesses to fill an urgent labour shortage with temporary foreign workers, Immigration, Diversity and Inclusiveness Minister Kathleen Weil told reporters Monday.

The new measures are supposed to come into effect April 30. Quebec wants to negotiate terms that would better suit the local labour market.

Weil took issue with the shortening of the length of work permits for some workers, which she said would hurt industries such as welding and machining in Chaudières-Appalaches.

A new 10 per cent cap on low-skilled temporary foreign workers on one company’s payroll would hinder the food sector, she added.

“Some of these businesses are telling us they will have to manufacture, transform, do what they do elsewhere,” she said.

Several business leaders showed their support for Quebec’s position on the TFW program.

“Fifty per cent of companies in Quebec have fewer than five employees, so it’s going to be very difficult for them to keep to the 10 per cent” limit, said François Vincent, director of provincial affairs at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

“Our members told us that the program helped them maintain and create jobs for Canadians. So now (the changes) have not only affected the jobs of TFWs who won’t be able to come to Quebec, but it will affect the jobs of Quebecers.”

Late in the day, Pierre Poilievre, the federal minister of employment and social development, responded in a statement saying that Quebecers must come first for Quebec jobs and that the changes would go ahead on April 30.

“Our government will not allow employers to hire temporary foreign workers while leaving Québécois without jobs,” the statement continued, adding the province has had almost a year to adjust to the new rules.

Poilievre also stressed the fact that these reforms do not apply to the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) as there are proven acute labour shortages in this industry.

“Canadian farmers, including those in Quebec, remain exempt from many of the changes including the application fee, the cap on low-wage workers, and the reduction to the time period that a low-wage temporary foreign worker can remain in Canada.”