June 26, 2014
Supporting Long-term Prosperity and Economic Growth
Provincial Government Comments on Federal Changes to Temporary Foreign Worker Program
The Honourable Kevin O’Brien, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills, expressed concerns today regarding federal changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker program, specifically the provision that links access to the program to the regional unemployment rate. Minister O’Brien expressed these concerns to his federal colleague, the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development.
“The restriction on temporary foreign workers in low-wage sectors will be acutely felt in areas with high levels of economic activity, especially western Labrador, where employers may be challenged to recruit locally. I have spoken to Minister Kenney regarding our concerns with linking the program to unemployment rates, and he is aware of the regional circumstances here in our province. I will be meeting with him again in the coming weeks and this issue will be my top priority.”
- The Honourable Kevin O’Brien, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills
The result of the changes mean employers will now have limited access to the program when hiring workers for ‘low-wage’ positions in regions with unemployment rates of six per cent or higher. The economic zones used by Statistics Canada to collect unemployment rates do not accurately capture the labour market in Newfoundland and Labrador. For example, the same unemployment rate is used for both the Northern Peninsula and for Labrador West. The Federal Government defines ‘low-wage’ by the provincial median wage, which in this province is less than $20.19 per hour, given wage growth due to major projects. These changes will make it challenging for small and medium-sized businesses and certain sectors of the economy, such as retail stores and food services establishments, to access temporary foreign workers.
“While there are some changes to the program which the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador supports, such as enhanced oversight to prevent misuse, other changes will create challenges for employers in our province. While we are still in the process of reviewing and analyzing changes made to the program, we anticipate it will continue to play a role in the province’s labour force, particularly given large development projects such as Hebron and Muskrat Falls.”
- Minister O’Brien
The Department of Advanced Education and Skills will continue to monitor the impacts the changes to this program will have on Newfoundland and Labrador employers and will advocate to the Federal Government as needed. The department will continue to assist employees and employers in responding to the changes to help meet their workforce needs. A range of employment and training supports are available, such as wage subsidies, program funding for worker training, online training tools, skills development, resume writing and job search assistance, and access to localized labour market information and research. Individuals are encouraged to visit Advanced Education and Skills Employment Centres across the province or call the Labour Market and Career Information Hotline at 1-800-563-6600, TTY: 1-866-729-4685.
- The Provincial Government supports certain federal changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker program, however, linking access to the program to the regional unemployment rate will create challenges for employers in Newfoundland and Labrador.
- The Provincial Government has expressed concerns regarding this change to the Federal Government and will continue to work to modify this provision.
- The Department of Advanced Education and Skills will continue to monitor the impacts of the changes to this program on Newfoundland and Labrador employers and will advocate to the Federal Government, as needed.
- The department will continue to assist employers in responding to the changes to this program to help meet their workforce needs. A range of employment and training supports are available, such as wage subsidies, program funding for worker training, online training tools, and access to localized labour market information and research.
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Director of Communications
Department of Advanced Education and Skills
2014 06 26 4:10 p.m.