Foreign workers: Ottawa more watchful of abuse

Minister for Employment Jason Kenney has announced changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers program. The measure is part of the bill implementing the budget and should come into force in early 2015. The changes will among others allow for imposing fines on employers who contravene this program’s rules, whether by making false declarations or by using foreign workers to replace Canadian workers. However, Ottawa has not yet determined the exact amount of the penalties.

Multiple sanctions

Within a few months, the federal government will also be conducting more inspection of companies. In addition to financial penalties, there are several levels of risks: exclusion from the program and adding the company’s name to a public list or revoking or suspending Labour Market Opinions (LMO) when necessary. The government could also require companies to pay the current salary to temporary foreign workers, eliminating the existing flexibility in this regard.

A criticized program

The Temporary Foreign Workers program has been heavily criticized in recent years. The first time was when Canadian employers used foreign workers during the 2008-2009 recession at a time when the country was facing a period of particularly high unemployment. The second time was last spring when the Royal Bank of Canada brought in foreign workers in the information technology sector while laying off Canadian workers. The institution had to apologize afterwards.

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