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Quebec And Federal Governments At Odds Over Changes To Temporary Foreign Worker Program

the CanadaVisa Team - 10 July, 2015

Quebec mining
Quebec mining

The government of Quebec, led by Liberal Premier Philippe Couillard, has stated its opposition to imminent changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) that are scheduled to come into effect next week on April 30.

The changes, announced last June, would make it more difficult for businesses in Quebec to fill urgent labour shortages with temporary foreign workers, said Quebec’s Minister of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusiveness Minister, Kathleen Weil. As a result, the government of Quebec is seeking a delay on the application of changes to the TFWP within the province and invited the federal government to work in tandem with them to find solutions that respect the particularities of the Quebec labour market.

"Quebec has shown rigor and integrity in the management of this program. Despite our success, the federal government decided to go ahead with a reform that makes it harder for Quebec businesses to access a temporary international workforce to seek talent and meet urgent needs,” said Ms Weil.

“Obviously we share the goal of prioritizing hiring local labour to meet the needs of our businesses. It nevertheless remains the case, in certain instances, that the local workforce is not sufficient to meet demands.”

Ms Weil cited the shortening of the length of work permits for some workers, which she said would hurt industries such as welding and machining, as a particular concern. She added that a new 10 per cent cap on low-skilled temporary foreign workers on a company’s payroll would hinder the food sector.

The Quebec government’s request, however, is unlikely to alter the implementation of the new regulations governing the TFWP. 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 [federal] government will not allow employers to hire temporary foreign workers while leaving Québécois without jobs,” stated Mr Poilievre.

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.”

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