Think tank calls for annual cap on temporary foreign workers

Federal government needs to further revamp beleaguered TFWP: Report
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 10/17/2013

With employers using the embattled Temporary Foreign Worker Program as a crutch, more changes should be made to put Canadian workers on an even keel, argues a report released today from the Institute for Research on Public Policy.

In order to revive the white elephant, report author Christopher Worswick said an annual cap on the number of temporary workers coming into the country should be implemented.

Economic Implications of Recent Changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, released on Oct. 17 from the IRPP (a non-partisan think tank), indicated an increasing number of domestic employers are recruiting new hires from outside the country. For instance, in 2012, more than 200,000 temporary foreign workers were admitted into the country – almost two-and-a-half times as many as in 1995.

The program’s naysayers have argued that has been at the expense of younger and less-skilled Canadian workers.

While the federal government’s recent reforms to the TFWP are a step in the right direction, Worswick said more needs to be done to quash reliance on the program.

“The growth in the number of temporary foreign workers is a cause for concern. Its timing, which coincides with a period of weakness in the Canadian economy, is especially troubling,” he explained. “These changes are sensible. They send a strong signal that firms should not become reliant on temporary foreign workers and should instead hire and possibly train Canadians to replace them in the future.”

The IRPP’s report called for a tightly-regulated and limited TFWP. That includes upping the penalties for employers who abuse the system, as well as creating incentives to ensure they stick to the rules.

Earlier this year, the federal government announced an overhaul of the foreign worker program, including hiring limitations and new administrative fees.

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