Restaurant operators struggling, one year after new foreign worker rules adopted

June 25, 2015

By News 1130 |

It’s been one year since the federal government introduced restrictions on the use of Temporary Foreign Workers in the country.

The head of the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association says three regions of BC have been hit hardest by the changes.

Ian Tostenson says businesses in Whistler, the Okanagan and the Kootenays have been struggling, while trying to rely on fewer foreign workers during high tourism season.

He says restaurants are now unable to respond to any uptick in business.

“The BC economy is on the upswing. When the economy is like this, more people visit restaurants. Restaurants need more kitchen workers. You want to access the extra labour fairly quickly, but we can’t do that right now.”

Last year’s changes mean restaurants in regions with unemployment above six per cent are prevented from hiring any low-skilled temporary foreign workers.

The number of low-skilled foreign workers cannot exceed 30 per cent in a single workplace (down to 10 per cent in 2016).

Restaurant operators who want to hire high-skilled temporary foreign workers have to more rigorously pursue potential Canadian candidates before submitting applications for foreign workers.

Tostenson says the changes are even preventing restauranteurs from setting up new establishments.

“There is a gentleman in Victoria who wanted to open up three Thai restaurants. He wanted to have three Thai chefs to work in the restaurant. The changes effectively stopped that.”

The federal government enacted the changes last June after stories surfaced that suggested some Canadian employers preferred to hire and gave more hours to Temporary Foreign Workers.

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