the CanadaVisa Team - 09 July, 2015
The Government of Canada is considering the possibility of tougher penalties for businesses that violate its new regulations on the use of the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program. The proposals were posted this week on the government’s Employment and Social Development website, a ministry overseen by Jason Kenney, who used to hold the Immigration portfolio.
The proposed penalties would include moratoriums that would prohibit businesses from using the program for one, five or ten years, depending on the severity of the violation. Businesses and foreign workers could also have existing Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) and work permits suspended or revoked, as has already occurred in a few select cases. When work permits are suspended or revoked, the employer’s name may be placed on a public blacklist. Fines of between $500 and $100,000 were also discussed in the paper.
“The existing authorities to ban a non-compliant employer for two years and revoke associated LMIAs and work permits may be too severe in some circumstances and not severe enough in others. These consequences also do not ensure that an employer does not benefit financially from non-compliance. It is important, therefore, that a range of compliance measures be available to promote employer compliance with Program conditions and to respond appropriately when employers do not comply,” states the government paper.
“Longer bans would provide a more appropriate response to egregious or repeated cases of non-compliance where it is important to ensure that an employer cannot hire foreign nationals and that the labour market and foreign nationals working in Canada are protected.”
The proposed penalties have been brought into the public domain at a time when companies of all sizes have made it known that the recently revised TFW regulations may hurt business and stunt economic growth at a local and regional level.
"My hope is that if they go down this road, maybe they can unwind some of the terrible reforms that they made in the summer that are unfairly penalizing companies that haven't done anything wrong,” said Dan Kelly, head of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which represents small- and medium-sized businesses across Canada. “We're missing out on economic development, we're losing out on growth and growing our tax base as a result of these heavy-handed changes.”
The recent changes to the TFW Program were also mentioned earlier this week by new Alberta Premier, Jim Prentice , who has sided with the Alberta business community on the issue. Earlier this month the Government of Canada declared that LMIA applications were down 74% since August, 2012 .
The proposed penalties are not yet law, and it remains to be seen whether the Government of Canada will make further changes to the TFW Program.