Government of Canada

Government of Canada
Government of Alberta

Government of Alberta

July 09, 2007 15:39 ET

Canada's New Government Announces Development of Memorandum of Understanding with Province of Alberta on Temporary Foreign Workers

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - July 9, 2007) - The Honourable Monte Solberg, Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, and the Honourable Iris Evans, Alberta Minister of Employment, Immigration and Industry, today announced that the Government of Canada and the Province of Alberta are working together to strengthen protections for temporary foreign workers.

"Each of our jurisdictions has an interest and a role to play in the entry and safe employment of foreign workers," said Minister Solberg. "That is why we are developing a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate information sharing between our levels of government, which is critical to ensuring that the rights of these workers are protected and that the terms of employment are fulfilled." This is the first time the federal government has worked with a provincial government to ensure that these measures are introduced.

The federal government is also currently exploring options to strengthen monitoring and compliance mechanisms for the protection of foreign workers. Minister Solberg noted: "We are looking at putting in place measures to address situations of abuse and fraud, including-but not limited to-the possibility of penalties or refusing future requests for foreign workers."

"Canada's New Government considers the safety of foreign workers a serious issue," Minister Solberg added. "I would like to congratulate the Province of Alberta for taking leadership to enhance the occupational health and safety of foreign workers by, for example, hiring additional employment standards officers."

"The Temporary Foreign Worker Program has become an important tool for Alberta employers to address the labour shortage," said Minister Evans. "As the province welcomes increasing numbers of temporary foreign workers each year, this information sharing agreement will help us make sure our programs are meeting the needs of employers and employees. Although the number of complaints is low, this agreement will also help us better monitor the working conditions of foreign workers and the efforts of employers to integrate the foreign workers into their communities."

Alberta Employment, Immigration and Industry is currently hiring 39 new employees in the occupational health and safety, employment standards, labour mobility and foreign recognition areas to support Alberta workplaces.

Minister Solberg noted that temporary foreign workers are being recruited in growing numbers to meet the demand of the strong economy, particularly in Western Canada, in large part due to oil and gas development and to construction projects such as the 2010 Winter Olympics. As well, Canada's labour force growth is slowing, creating further labour market pressures.

In Budget 2007, Canada's New Government committed an additional $50.5 million over two years to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to reduce processing delays, and respond more effectively to regional labour and skill shortages, so employers could meet their demands. These investments will facilitate the entry of foreign workers, while helping to ensure that proper monitoring and compliance measures are in place to protect them.

"As pressure grows for more temporary foreign workers, we want to make sure that there are robust measures in place to protect their interests," said Minister Solberg. "There must be zero tolerance for abuse, mistreatment or wrongdoing by unscrupulous employers, unions or recruiters. At the same time, we need to recognize that temporary foreign workers must supplement Canadian labour, not displace it," the Minister added.


Temporary Foreign Worker Program

General Backgrounder

Every year, Canadian employers hire thousands of foreign workers to help address skill and labour shortages.

The Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program is the Government of Canada's principal tool to help employers meet immediate skill requirements when qualified Canadian workers cannot be found. Employers may recruit workers for any legally recognized occupation from any country. As a result of labour shortages in certain sectors and regions of the country-such as the Alberta oil sands and the construction sector in British Columbia-the program has become increasingly important for businesses trying to remain competitive in Canada's booming economy.

The TFW Program has a number of components: the Live-in Caregiver Program; the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP); the pilot project for occupations requiring lower levels of formal training; the oil sands construction projects in Alberta; and the hiring of foreign academics.

Human Resources and Social Development Canada/Service Canada (HRSDC/Service Canada) and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) jointly administer the TFW Program. HRSDC/Service Canada deals strictly with employers applying for temporary foreign workers, while CIC deals directly with the temporary foreign workers.

HRSDC/Service Canada provides a labour market opinion to CIC when an employer asks to hire a temporary foreign worker. A labour market opinion determines whether the worker entering Canada will have a positive, negative or neutral impact on the Canadian labour market. CIC then issues the necessary documents for a foreign worker to work in Canada, subject to its screening processes for security, health and other considerations.

HRSDC/Service Canada will work in partnership with provincial and other federal government departments to ensure employers and foreign workers receive complete and accurate information regarding their rights and responsibilities under the TFW Program.

Improvements to the TFW Program

Budget 2007 provided an additional $50.5 million over two years to reduce processing delays and more effectively respond to regional labour and skill shortages. Improvements include expanding the online application system and maintaining lists of occupations under pressure-that is, occupations with known shortages of workers.

The TFW Program allows employers to hire foreign workers when sufficient numbers of Canadian workers are not readily available.

The Budget also provided for the development of mechanisms to monitor employer compliance with the terms and conditions of the TFW Program, and for the development of a formal process to address instances of non-compliance.

A monitoring and compliance framework will be developed over the coming year with a view to implementing such measures. Stakeholders will have an opportunity to provide input into the development of the monitoring and compliance mechanisms.

To ensure that these new investments in the TFW Program will improve protection for workers, and to better inform future policy and program development, we will be seeking feedback from many stakeholders, including employers and unions.

Quick Facts

In 2006, there were 171,844 temporary foreign workers living in Canada, which represents a 122-per-cent increase over 10 years. Temporary foreign workers entering Canada on the basis of a labour market opinion represent about 50 per cent of this number. The remaining foreign workers enter using exemptions under NAFTA or GATS, on student visas or as spouses.

There was a 400-per-cent increase in demand for foreign workers in Alberta between May 2006 and May 2007. In May 2006, employers requested 1,957 workers. In May 2007, employers requested 8,186 workers.



Top 10 Source Countries for Canadian Temporary Foreign Workers (2006):

1. United States 15.0%
2. Mexico 12.4%
3. France 7.7%
4. Philippines 7.6%
5. Australia 6.6%
6. United Kingdom 6.4%
7. Jamaica 5.6%
8. Japan 5.0%
9. Germany 3.6%
10. India 3.4%

Percentage of Temporary Foreign Workers by Province/Territory (2006):

Newfoundland 0.6%
Prince Edward Island 0.1%
Nova Scotia 1.2%
New Brunswick 0.8%
Quebec 13.1%
Ontario 44.7%
Manitoba 2.1%
Saskatchewan 1.4%
Alberta 13.5%
British Columbia 21.8%
Yukon 0.1%
Northwest Territories 0.2%
Nunavut 0.0%


For more information about the Government of Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program, visit HRSDC at www.hrsdc.gc.ca or CIC at www.cic.gc.ca.


Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Alberta

Backgrounder

There was a 400-per-cent increase in demand for foreign workers in Alberta between May 2006 and May 2007. In May 2006, employers requested 1,957 workers. In May 2007, employers requested 8,186 workers.

In 2006, there were 22,392 temporary foreign workers living in Alberta, which represents 13.5 per cent of all temporary foreign workers in Canada.



Percentage of Temporary Foreign Workers by Province/Territory (2006):

Newfoundland 0.6%
Prince Edward Island 0.1%
Nova Scotia 1.2%
New Brunswick 0.8%
Quebec 13.1%
Ontario 44.7%
Manitoba 2.1%
Saskatchewan 1.4%
Alberta 13.5%
British Columbia 21.8%
Yukon 0.1%
Northwest Territories 0.2%
Nunavut 0.0%


Improving the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program

Over the last few years, the Province of Alberta and the Government of Canada, in cooperation with stakeholders, have taken measures to improve the TFW Program, support migrant workers and protect these workers' individual rights.

The Province of Alberta has put in place the Alberta Fair Trading Act, which requires employment agencies operating in Alberta to be licensed. Licensing prohibits them from demanding or collecting a fee, reward or other form of compensation for helping a person seek or secure employment. Recently, Service Canada, in conjunction with the Province of Alberta, has been including information regarding the requirements of the Fair Trading Act in the labour market opinion letters issued to employers who have requested permission to hire a temporary foreign worker.

The Canada-Alberta Working Group on the TFW Program has been established to improve the identification of existing and emerging skill shortages and to identify ways in which the TFW Program can help to address those shortages.

For more information about the Government of Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program, visit Human Resources and Social Development Canada at www.hrsdc.gc.ca or Citizenship and Immigration Canada at www.cic.gc.ca.


Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Roles and Responsibilities

Backgrounder

The Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program allows employers to hire foreign workers to fill labour shortages when Canadian workers are not readily available. The program, managed by Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC) and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), operates under the authority of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and its Regulations. IRPA prescribes who may enter and work in Canada. As well, IRPA outlines the respective roles and responsibilities of HRSDC and CIC in regulating the entry of foreign nationals into Canada's workforce.

Human Resources and Social Development Canada

Many of the employers who want to hire a foreign national must apply to HRSDC/Service Canada for what is called a labour market opinion. HRSDC assesses the potential impact of the worker on Canada's labour market-in other words, how the offer of employment will affect Canadian jobs.

As part of this labour market opinion, HRSDC/Service Canada works case by case to ensure that employers offer prevailing wage rates and acceptable working conditions, and that there are benefits to the labour market associated with hiring the foreign worker. It also ensures the employer has first made a comprehensive effort to fill vacant positions with Canadian workers. If these conditions are met, a positive labour market opinion is given, and the employer receives a letter to that effect.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Many of the foreign nationals who wish to work in Canada require a work permit from CIC. HRSDC/Service Canada provides a positive labour market opinion when the employment of the foreign national is not likely to have an adverse effect on the Canadian labour market. Following receipt of a positive labour market opinion from HRSDC, CIC determines whether it will issue a work permit and whether the foreign worker will be allowed into Canada.

Provincial and Territorial Governments

The working conditions of temporary foreign workers are the responsibility of the labour department in each province or territory. Temporary foreign workers are covered by the same labour legislation and have the same rights as Canadian workers. Ninety per cent of occupations are provincially regulated, and employment and labour standards for those occupations are the responsibility of the provincial and territorial governments. The other 10 per cent of occupations are federally regulated, and the employment and labour standards fall under the Canada Labour Code.

Employers

Employers request a labour market opinion or arranged employment opinion from HRSDC/Service Canada. Employers are responsible for informing their prospective temporary foreign workers of the labour market opinion assessment results. To receive a positive labour market opinion, employers must meet all the requirements of the labour market opinion, including the following.

Under the TFW Program, they must

- demonstrate comprehensive and ongoing efforts to recruit Canadians, including youth, Aboriginal people, recent immigrants and Canadians in areas of high unemployment

- demonstrate efforts to hire unemployed Canadians through HRSDC and provincial employment programs

- consult with the local union if the position is covered under a collective agreement.

Under the Low-Skill Pilot, they must

- sign an employer-employee contract outlining wages, duties and conditions related to the transportation, accommodation, health and occupational safety of the foreign worker

- cover all recruitment costs related to the hiring of the foreign worker

- help the worker find suitable and affordable accommodation

- pay the foreign worker's airfare to and from Canada

- provide medical coverage until the worker is eligible for provincial health insurance coverage

- register the worker under the appropriate provincial workers' compensation and workplace safety insurance plans

- when the employment offer is longer than 12 months, indicate that wages will be reviewed and adjusted, if necessary, at the end of a year to ensure prevailing wage rates are being respected.

For more information about the Government of Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program, visit HRSDC at www.hrsdc.gc.ca or CIC at www.cic.gc.ca.

This news release is available in alternative formats upon request.

Contact Information

  • Minister Solberg's Office
    Lesley Harmer
    819-994-2482
    or
    Human Resources and Social Development Canada
    Media Relations Office
    819-994-5559
    or
    Alberta Employment, Immigration and Industry
    Lorelei Fiset-Cassidy
    Director of Communications
    780-427-5649
    Cell: 780-619-1357