Farming in rural Quebec, Canada

The government of Canada has announced that it is freezing the 20 per cent cap on the number of low-wage temporary foreign workers a company can hire. The cap, which was set to go down to 10 per cent next week, will instead stay where it is.

The government is currently conducting a review of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), through which Canadian employers may respond to labour shortages by hiring internationally, but only once Canadian citizens and permanent residents have been given the first opportunity to apply for open job positions.

Canada's Labour Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk said the controversial temporary foreign worker program needs an overhaul. Her department is expected to announce plans for further changes to the program later this year.

"I believe this is a prudent step to take as we work to develop a better temporary foreign worker policy and fix some of the problems with the program that emerged under the previous government," Mihychuk said in a statement.

In June, 2014, the previous Conservative government implemented a phased-in reduction in temporary foreign workers working in low-wage positions. For the purposes of the program, low-wage is defined as a wage that is below the provincial/territorial median hourly wage where the job is located. Those reforms also included measures disallowing use of the program for employers wishing to hire low-wage workers in regions of Canada with high unemployment rates.

Employers who first began hiring low-wage temporary foreign workers before the cap came into effect will still be able to use it for 20 per cent of their workforce. Those who started using the program after that point, or who are hiring temporary foreign workers for the first time, will be subject to a 10 percent cap.

The Liberal government had already suspended the cap on low-wage temporary foreign workers for seasonal employers earlier this year, after employers in certain industries that have seasonal peaks in activity (such as seafood processing and agriculture) exclaimed that the cap would have a negative effect on business.


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