The Canada temporary foreign worker program has been scrutinized quite a bit in the country in the recent times. There are polarized opinions. One lobby suggests that the program is too lax. Another segment suggests that the program is too rigid. The employer groups, which are keen to bring skilled foreign workforce, are obviously pushing for relaxation of rules. On the other hand, the labor unions which are more concerned about internal politics and the interests of domestic labors, and so want it to be more rigid. There is growing unrest against some of the policies, especially related to Canadians, losing their IT jobs to temporary workers from abroad.
Labor economists feel that the program is outrageous, allowing employers to import foreign workers with the excuse that there is a scarcity of qualified Canadians for many of the jobs. Interestingly, the salaries paid to Canadian nationals have become a talking point as well, with some demanding a higher paycheck to attract eligible Canadians. There are several categories under which employers can hire or import skilled foreign workers. The Canada temporary foreign worker program, allows employers to import skilled agricultural workers, live-in caregivers and workers for lower-skilled and higher-skilled occupations.
As per the program, employers can go for online applications, as that reduces a major part of the burden of paperwork for lower and higher skilled Applicants. The program deals with TFW or temporary foreign workers who have taken a major chunk of new jobs in the recent years in Canada. Interestingly, two parallel streams of thoughts are engaging First Nations and Métis people, and allowing TFW to enter the mainstream immigration system. One of the figures doing rounds is the number of TFW, which is 25% over and above the economic immigrants that Canada usually accepts. Although worker shortage is a problem, a lot of politicians are demanding for better infrastructure to train Canadians instead of going for a short term solution.
Both, the CIC and the HRSDC are in charge of the program. As per the guidelines, employers need to get LMO or Labor Market Opinion from HRSDC. This will be given only when it has been proved that the employer is importing foreign workers only after genuinely trying to find Canadian employees to fill the same position. Sectors that come under international trade agreement, though, are exempted from this requirement. A worker at the same time is required to send an application to CIC to get a work permit to work in Canada.
There is a separate unit called the CIC Temporary Foreign Worker Unit that helps employers find out if they need an LMO to import foreign workers for specific jobs. From the workers’ point of view, it is possible to convert their temporary permit into permanent residence, provided they satisfy certain stringent criteria. There is a Provincial Nominee Program in place as well, for foreign nationals interested in taking up permanent residence in Canada. At the core though, the program has been designed only to address temporary shortage in skilled workforce, for specific positions.