…But Is It Good For Canada?

April 30th, 2012

Last Thursday, April 25th 2012, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) announced the implementation of a new Accelerated Labour Market Opinion (A-LMO) program. The introduction of this accelerated program is undoubtedly welcomed by many employers, who have been frustrated by rising LMO processing times across Canada. However, it is important to look at what kind of employer this program will help out, and what ramifications this may have for the overall Canadian labour market.

The A-LMO, which promises the issuance of a Labour Market Opinion within 10 business days, is not available to all employers. In order to be eligible, employers must, among other things, have been issued a positive LMO within the past two years. While this may benefit a few small businesses, the vast majority of employers that regularly secure LMOs for foreign workers are big national and multi-national corporations. They will likely make up a big part of the demographic that will use this A-LMO program the most.

In my March 2012 and December 2011 blog posts, I described how Canadian immigration policy is shifting to rely more heavily on employers. For both temporary and permanent immigration, the private sector is being given an increasingly large mandate to select workers and help shape the ways in which they are brought to Canada. I cautioned that such a focus on employer-driven immigration has the potential to result in a fixation on short-term solutions to Canada’s labour problems, as opposed to addressing labour market issues that will persist long after immigrants have become settled residents or returned home.

It seems that through this new A-LMO process, HRSDC is doing just that. It helps mostly big businesses grow their temporary workforce through skilled foreign labour that, given the current worldwide economy, is more and more being offered at a discounted price. For example, through the new A-LMO system, employers may offer a foreign national a job with wages that are up to 15% below the current prevailing average wage for that occupation in Canada. This can be done provided that other employees in the company are being paid that same lower wage. However, it stands in contrast to requirements for a traditional LMO, which mandate that employees are paid a salary equal to or exceeding the prevailing wage in their region.

The lowered wage option has the potential, while not directly undercutting the market, to slowly drive down labour costs. Canadians and foreign workers alike will be reluctant to demand higher wages when it is clear that the government condones work force growth at a payment level below the national average. These lower wages may be good for employers in the short term, helping them to keep costs down while expanding business. However, as I have mentioned before, “what is good for GE is not necessarily good for Canada”.

A goal of Canadian immigration is to create communities of financially and socially integrated immigrant communities. These are mostly created through permanent residents and Canadian citizens. Oftentimes, a temporary worker will come to Canada and then transition from temporary to permanent status. However, it is not necessarily in the interests of a private enterprise to keep workers on a permanent basis. For many businesses, the most cost-effective route may be to a rotating cast of skilled temporary workers, who will return home after a couple years in Canada. This may especially be the case if workers can be paid at less than the prevailing wage. Overall, this formula may result in the Canadian workforce suffering losses not only of personal income, but also of critical skills and knowledge as talented workers return home or go elsewhere after their temporary status expires.

This is not to say that employers are focused only on driving down workers pay –they’re not. However, any good business is responsible first and foremost for improving their bottom line, and keeping labour costs down is an important part of achieving this goal. Whether this will benefit Canadian economy and society is not the responsibility of a private enterprise, nor should it be. In focusing on employers, the current government is forgetting that setting immigration policy is not only an exercise in securing short term growth. It is also a long-term commitment to economic stability, and to nation-building.

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10 Responses to “…But Is It Good For Canada?”

  • On April 30th, 2012, Anonymous said ...

    Both the government and the worker (temporary or permanent) must share the same goal of long-term commitment to Canada, making Canada better, for economic stability is not just important for the worker, but for the nation. Good article, Mr.Cohen.

  • On May 1st, 2012, Tekeba Eshetie Nega said ...

    Dear David Cohen, I can see a very nice shift which cut down the transactions of workers to employers long time deal in Canada. The problem related to application as skilled labor force to Canada is you can’t find the vacancies. There are some “agents” which are trying to upload some vacancies but I am not sure whether that is realistic. So far there is no progress in my application process because I am still a student. I will finish my study by the coming September. Thank you for your nice Blog and will keep in touch. GOD Bless you and your family

  • On May 1st, 2012, eissa mohd saeed dusuqi said ...

    thankyou for contacting me with this great news i am so excited thought am for along time trying to get ajob and come to Canada for the sake of my kids education.

  • On May 4th, 2012, Vitaly said ...

    Dear Mr Cohen thank you.When I read it I feel that I am in Canada for a moment. Regards from Belarus

  • On May 5th, 2012, Anonymous said ...

    Hi David , Thank u for ur insight blogs/articles. This is very infomative for any one aspiring to come to Canada.

  • On May 27th, 2012, Anonymous said ...

    They took our jobs and drove down wages! (not a good thing)

  • On June 10th, 2012, Expert said ...

    I think the key point here is that most of regulators here to assess the documents of new immigrants are belonging to public sector. Like engineers and doctors. So I think the best way to make a balance between job experience of new comments and Canadian employer expectation is that government take the control of such organization.

  • On July 17th, 2012, Ernest said ...

    Does being good for Canada mean anything to the politicians that control Canada? No is obviously the answer when we are experiencing disfiguring and deplorable changes to our entire cultural structure that Canadians were not aware even were being contemplated during the last election. Talk about a deceitful and untrustworthy government…I heard Harper was recently in France and meet with the leader of that country. It seems to me he was probably there to arrange for France to support Quebec when they separate, which is a reasonable expectation because Quebec can vote to exclude themselves from rule by this deplorable con government.

  • On October 13th, 2012, Anonymous said ...

    Yes Mr.David,i compeletly accept your comments on this,as 90% of employers are cheating the govenrmnet and employees by not paying the right taxes,and wages.Now if the government is going to legalise that an employer can pay less then the regular wages,then for people like me who are temporary foreign worker will only get paid 2 or 3 $ per hour.And the government is not focusing on long terms benefits for the betterment of the of country and for the people who actually contribute to the countries economy growth.When these issues are raised with Ministers level, they throw the responsibility on each other as your issues are provinical and not fedral and the fedral says the same as it falls under provinical.At the end the person who raisie these concerns are fooled.

  • On April 8th, 2013, Anonymous said ...

    How can any of these options benefit canada. It doesn’t make sense for this country to allow people to come here so openly. There are people here that don’t have jobs and because they expect to get an honest wage. These people were born here and I don’t mean people that came here that were immigrants and have children here. I’m talking about people that have a history here with Canada. In this I mean people(s) that there family roots have been established in Canada for a long time. This countries tax payers who have been paying taxes ever since paying taxes have started deserve better than this and it’s not good enough. If you can’t give these honest working Canadians a job who have these roots established in Canada for a long time. And it’s a fact that some not all of the immigrants come here having the same mentality that they had before they come here. We should be following the austrialian way of immigration. If your going to live and work here. Have your own money to support your health problems if you have them. If you can’t start your own business and help the system then you can’t get in. Also, if you come here with the same mentality you left your country with, you better change or get out. Walk ally the countries where murdering, civil wars, rape, slavery, human trafficking,giving guns to children and the list goes on have to change or just not be allowed in.I think if the tables were turned and we were going to there country, I don’t think we would get treated the same and I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t allow us in cause we would be taking there jobs. Just a little food for thought. Jus one more thing a little off topic. How can people think its right for an immigrant to come here and get subsidized $30000 dollars a year and our senior citizens only get around $17000 a year and these people have payed in to the system all there live. Wow these country will move from a first world country to a third world one if we’re not careful. I hope people read this and have a good long thought about what I have posted. I was born here and my family runs back for generations. I even have native ties to this great country. Please don’t let all these rediculous polices harm out country, it will only destroy this country in the end not help it. Most of these people come here and work, then take there money back to there country instead of spending it here. So yeah, they are just helping this economy is the best way.

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