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WHEREAS economic growth and community prosperity relies on the ability of small, medium and large business to access the necessary skilled labour force; and
WHEREAS the unique needs of Alberta’s strong economy means that the demand for labour in our communities requires the support of programs like the Temporary Foreign Workers Program; and
WHEREAS the Temporary Foreign Workers Program is only possible because Canada is full of opportunity and is a desirable place to build a better life for foreign workers and their families; and
WHEREAS the goal of the changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program should be to increase accountability, decrease abuse and ensure access to a workforce that Canadian businesses, be they small, medium, or large need; and
WHEREAS the Government of Canada has introduced changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program on June 20, 2014, that were designed to increase accountability but have also detrimentally affected the ability of employers to access the program; and
WHEREAS changes in the Temporary Foreign Workers Program must align with the goals and objectives of the overall Canadian immigration system ensuring that the investment in training and settlement of temporary foreign workers is leveraged and not lost;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Canadians should have first access to jobs in Canada and the Government of Canada and provincial governments should continue to develop a national labour mobility strategy that encourages and facilitates Canadians to fill jobs; and
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the Province of Alberta to work with the Federal Minister of Employment and Social Development and the Federal Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to:
In the spring of 2014, the Government of Canada issued a moratorium on the hiring of temporary foreign workers in the food services sector after it was revealed that there were many instances of employers abusing the Temporary Foreign Workers Program. The moratorium had an immediate impact on businesses in Alberta where the unemployment rate is very low and the demand for a skilled labour force is high.
In response to the moratorium, Alberta’s mid-sized cities jointly signed a letter on May 26, 2014 requesting the Government of Canada to reinstate the Temporary Foreign Works Program due to:
On June 20, 2014, the Government of Canada announced changes to the entire Temporary Foreign Workers Program:
These changes have improved the accountability of the program and protection of workers but, at the same time, decreased the ability of businesses to access the labour force they need to continue to operate and grow.
The AAMDC has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
The Government of Alberta’s priority has been, and always will be, that Canadians are hired first. Temporary foreign workers (TFWs) are not meant to replace Albertans or to fill permanent jobs. Alberta Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour is working hard, on behalf of Albertans, to find solutions that meet our permanent labour force needs, including updating the actions in our provincial labour force development strategy and ensuring that we have a co?ordinated approach to workforce development.
Employers are encouraged to invest in training that will equip their current and future workers with the skills they need to fill available jobs. The Canada-Alberta Job Grant program helps private and non-profit employers by providing funding for new and existing staff to access relevant training.
Interprovincial labour mobility contributes to a substantial portion of Alberta’s labour supply for many occupations. Alberta is party to the Agreement on Internal Trade and the New West Partnership Trade Agreement, both of which support labour mobility across Canada. The Alberta government continues to support the full implementation of the labour mobility sections of these agreements.
Immigration is part of Alberta’s multi-pronged approach to address the challenges the province faces in growing a permanent labour force. The Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program remains a vital tool to help transition qualified foreign workers to Alberta’s permanent labour force.
In addition, the federal Express Entry (EE) system focuses on permanent immigration with a greater emphasis on selecting international workers with the skills to complement Albertans and Canadians. The Government of Alberta is working with the federal government to ensure the EE system is responsive to provincial labour market needs.
With respect to the TFW program, the federal government has indicated there will not be any changes to the TFW program reforms announced in June 2014. The Alberta government is working with the federal government to have a program that responds to Alberta’s labour market needs and ensures the integrity of the program is not compromised. Recently, Alberta reached an agreement with the Government of Canada on TFWs who are already working and contributing to our economy and have a better chance at permanently calling Alberta home.
The Alberta government’s TFW Advisory Offices are available to TFWs, ensuring they are aware of their rights and responsibilities, and to help find solutions to unfair, unsafe or unhealthy working and living conditions. These offices are the first of their kind in Canada. Services are available in 170 languages and publications are available online in 14 languages. In addition, Alberta Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour provides funding to immigrant serving agencies throughout the province to deliver support services to TFWs as they adapt to living and working in Alberta.
The AAMDC recognizes the steps taken by the Government of Alberta to improve the TFW program. As the Government of Canada has indicated that there will not be additional changes to the program following June 2014, it is unclear if the strategy developed by the federal government or provincial government will meet Alberta’s unique labour market as the permanent residency process can take several years to complete.
Despite this, the AAMDC is encouraged that the Government of Alberta and Government of Canada have pursued alternative policy and program options to address the needs of Alberta’s labour market. In addition, the Government of Alberta’s response indicates that they agree with the intent of the resolution and have been attempting to work with the federal government to ensure that the TFW program meets the needs of Alberta. As a result, this resolution is assigned a status of Accepted in Part, and will continue to be advocated on.
The federal government reviewed the TFW program in late 2016 and released a report and recommendations that include loosening the cap on how many foreign works businesses can hire, as well as measures for speeding up and reducing hurdles in the Labour Market Impact Assessment process which determines whether businesses were unable to find locals for the jobs offered to TFW. The Government of Canada indicated that these recommendations would be acted upon but the AAMDC has not heard any indication that this is the case.