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More and more provinces are making lists of Regional Occupations Under Pressure, which help employers in labour-tight industries to bring in foreign workers quickly. Employers with job vacancies in listed occupations face less stringent requirements under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

Amid a prosperous and growing economy, Canadian labour force growth has struggled to keep up with new job creation, making foreign workers an increasingly critical source of labour. Human Resources and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has made improvements to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program over the past year to make it more responsive to Canadian labour market needs. This month, it has initiated Occupations Under Pressure Lists for Quebec, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia to help employers bring in workers from abroad to fill regional skill shortages.

Regional Occupations Under Pressure Lists were first created in December 2006 to fast-track the hiring of foreign workers for specific industries where open positions were going unfilled. At that time, only Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia had such lists.

The key to Occupations Under Pressure is reduced advertising requirements. Typically, when considering whether a Temporary Work Permit should be granted to a foreign worker, the employer’s advertising and recruitment efforts must meet strict requirements to demonstrate that no Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents could be found to fill the job. For Occupations Under Pressure, this has been predetermined based on labour market information. ESDC has therefore reduced the advertising requirements for employers who are applying to hire foreign workers in listed occupations. Occupations Under Pressure criteria require that employers demonstrate that they have established on-going recruitment mechanisms and that they have advertised an open position for only seven days before they can apply to hire temporary foreign workers.

Quebec has listed 47 occupations under pressure, the majority in health and natural and applied sciences occupations. Manitoba’s 13 occupations under pressure fall mainly in trades, transport, and equipment operation. Prince Edward Island has listed nine, four of which are in the farming and fishing industries. Nova Scotia’s list features 11 occupations, most in Sales and Service occupations and health occupations.

In 2006, there were nearly 172,000 Temporary Foreign Workers in Canada – an increase of 122 per cent over the past ten years. “With the shortage of labour at an all-time high, foreign workers are a more and more important resource,” explains the president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses.

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