Upcoming Foreign Worker Rules Present New Problems

By John Burke | February 21, 2011

by John Burke – Pace Law Firm: Over the last several days it has been difficult to pick up a newspaper and not see an article talking about Canada’s immigration policy. For the most part, these articles have been critical of the government’s handling of this very important issue.

On Saturday there was an editorial in the Toronto Star that referred to the Conservative government as having created a “harsher Canada” in the eyes of immigrants. The Globe and Mail then ran a piece questioning the government’s wisdom in allowing so many temporary foreign workers into the country.

While I don’t agree with everything stated in either of these articles, I do believe that they have identified a real problem with the increased number of Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) that Canada experienced during 2010.

What the articles did not mention, however, were the government’s proposed changes to the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSW), or the regulatory changes to the TFW stream that will come into effect on April 1, 2011.
The FSW proposed changes are just proposals at this point, and may change considerably before becoming anything more, so I am not going to comment on these at this time. The regulatory changes, however, are much closer to being reality and, in my opinion, will cause additional problems in the long run.

The regulatory changes have been enacted to apply to all TFWs and their employers, not just to the root of the problem, which is the part of the program which allows the entrance of low and/or unskilled TFWs. In other words, it does not matter what job the temporary foreign worker is doing, or how specialized – and therefore important – their skills are to their employer. Temporary foreign workers will all be lumped together and treated the same. This sounds nice in theory, but in practice it is unfair to both the skilled temporary foreign worker as well as their employer.

The most concerning item contained in the changes is a 4 year cap on TFWs working in Canada, and a bar for a further 4 years before that individual can work here temporarily again. From the foreign worker’s perspective, it must seem patently unfair to live and work in Canada for 4 years, then be told that you can’t return for almost half a decade. From the employer’s perspective, losing a highly skilled employee after 4 years of specialized service can do harm to the business, not to mention morale in the workplace.

I will have more information on the regulatory changes to the TFW Program later this week. In the meantime, you may wish to visit here and here for more details. As always, you can contact me here for more information.