Expanded foreign worker program praised, but more hiring help needed, businesses say
April 7, 2022
By CBC News
Some New Brunswick business representatives say the expansion of the temporary foreign workers program is a step in the right direction.
They also say Ottawa still needs to do more to make it easier to hire foreign workers in response to critical labour shortages.
“So everything that was said, that was announced, I agree with it. It’s a plus,” said Mario Cormier, owner of M & M Cormier, a fish plant near Cap Pelé.
“It’s just, it’s a step in the right direction but [the federal government] still got to go further.”
About 100,000 temporary foreign workers come to Canada each year, under the federal program, which allows employers to hire them if no Canadian or permanent resident is available.
On Monday, Employment and Social Development Canada announced that sectors experiencing labour shortages will be allowed to hire more employees from abroad, and in some cases those employees can stay longer under the temporary foreign worker program.
Those include companies in seasonal industries such as the seafood processing sector, which are no longer subject to a cap on the number of “low-wage” positions that employers can fill through the program.
Additionally, foreign workers hired by those companies will be able to work for a maximum of 270 days per year, up from 180 days.
Speaking on Wednesday, Cormier said the federal government’s process for companies to employ temporary foreign workers involves too much “red tape.”
He said just getting his application approved took four months.
In an industry where employees often come and go on a whim, that’s too long, he said.
“If I get people that come in to work, they work for five weeks or 10 weeks and after that they decide they find some another job or they get sick or something like that, I need to replace them.
“If I go through that immigration process, it takes me six months or nine months, or a whole year before I get another worker to come in, replace them. That’s a problem that we’re facing. That’s a big problem that we’re facing.”