Foreign Worker Changes Will Hurt Construction: CCA

Foreign Worker Changes Will Hurt Construction: CCA

Changes to the foreign worker scheme announced by the Canadian government have been met with fierce opposition from the nation’s construction industry.

Changes to the foreign worker scheme announced by the Canadian government have been met with fierce opposition from the nation’s construction industry, which is especially concerned about a temporary suspension of a program which allows employers to receive confirmation about labour market shortages more quickly.

Under changes announced earlier this week, the government announced a temporary suspension to the Accelerated Labour Market Opinion program – a program which allowed eligible employers to o receive labour market opinions (i.e. confirmation from HRSDC that proposed positions for temporary foreign workers cannot be filled by resident workers) within 10 days of submission, as opposed to several weeks, making it faster and easier for employers to recruit foreign workers in cases they are needed quickly.

The changes stem from an ongoing review of the temporary foreign worker program and reflect concerns some employers have brought in foreign workers for high skilled jobs and then placed them in lower skilled positions such as fast food restaurants and gas stations.

During the suspension, the government will look at whether the ALMO is meeting its original objectives.

The Canadian Construction Association (CCA) has slammed the ALMO suspension, saying the program already has adequate safeguards.

“The Canadian Construction Association (CCA) is very concerned that the changes to the Labour Market Opinion (LMO) and Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) programs announced yesterday will reduce the sector’s ability and capacity to meet the increased demand for construction services across Canada” CCA president Michael Atkinson says.

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Image Source: ST Jobs

“From an industry perspective, the suspension of the Accelerated LMO is extremely disappointing. The program was designed with adequate safeguards limiting program access to trusted employers only with bona-fide labour recruitment challenges.”

Aitkinson says contrary to popular perceptions, construction industry employers seek to employ foreigners only as a last resort, and the time it takes to train new apprentices means the industry does not have a ready supply of apprentices waiting to fill vacant positions.

“From a construction industry perspective, the TFW program is a stop-gap measure which allows industry to keep pace with rising demand across Canada for construction services” Atkinson says. “The cost of recruiting and employing temporary foreign workers in the construction sector makes this an option of last resort, but a necessary tool for the industry in terms of meeting industry demands.”

Other changes include an introduction of employer fees for LMO processing and a rise in the fees for work permits so taxpayers are not subsidizing the costs.

Atkinson says the construction industry is not overly concerned about the fees, but wishes to avoid any increase in red tape or compliance requirements on the industry.

By Andrew Heaton
Top Image Source: Canada’s Economic Action Plan
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