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News Release: 08/12/2013

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August 12, 2013
Revamped rules penalize employers: chamber prez
By: Graeme Bruce
Monday, Aug. 12, 2013

New federal rules around temporary foreign workers punish employers who haven’t done anything wrong, said Brandon Chamber of Commerce president Craig Senchuk.
 
The additional laws, which came into place at the end of July, includes a $275 processing fee for each position request through the federal government program’s labour market opinion.
 
“We have to look at not penalizing the ones who aren’t abusing the system for the sake of the ones that have,” Senchuk said. “Even if it’s little things to make it more difficult, it’s not good for us.
 
“The bigger issue is we should be looking at a way to loosen restrictions instead of tightening them up.”
 
Also included in the rules is a restriction of the languages that can be listed as job requirements to English and French unless otherwise deemed necessary, and new advertising requirements that almost double the length of time the job is listed before the employers turn to the temporary foreign worker program.
 
According to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, 60 per cent of applications handed out in 2012 didn’t actually lead to work permits for workers and the new fee is designed to deter employers from slowing the system down.
 
“The reforms announced today and in recent months further strengthen the integrity of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and ensure that more employers hire Canadians before hiring temporary foreign workers,” said Employment and Social Development Minister Jason Kenney said in a press release last week.
 
“These improvements help ensure the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is only used as intended — to fill acute skills shortages on a temporary basis.”
 
While Senchuk agrees Canadian citizens in western Manitoba should be first in line for jobs, he said there isn’t a lack of jobs to be filled in the area.
 
“What are you going to do to force someone who just plain doesn’t want to work? And there’s lots of those, what are you supposed to do? Let’s bring in people who want to work.”
 
According to Economic Development Brandon, the city’s jobless rate was a four per cent in July — up slightly from June, but much lower than the 7.2 per cent across the country.
 
“We’re in a position in Westman where we need to bring people in, and we need to make it easier, not harder,” Senchuk said. “There are ones who abuse it, but the rest of us are paying for it.”
 
These reforms do not apply to on-farm primary agriculture occupations, such as those under the seasonal agricultural worker program and the agricultural stream.
 
As well, a new questionnaire asks a number of questions dealing with outsourcing, including whether “the entry of these temporary foreign workers (would) lead to job losses, now or in the foreseeable future, for Canadians ... as a result of layoffs, outsourcing, offshoring or other factors.”
 
Officials say the government is still reviewing the program and more changes may be announced in the fall.
 
» gbruce@brandonsun.com, with files from The Canadian Press
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 12, 2013