The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and allegations of abuse

McDonalds and Tim Hortons employ over 9000 foreign workers. Their numbers are in par with the overall increase of foreign workers between 2006 to 2012. The number of approved foreign worker positions in accommodation and food services grew from 4,360 to 44,740.

Immigration Canada is once again being accused of failing to protect Canadian workers by allowing big fast food chains, such as McDonalds Canada to hire underpaid foreign workers in favour of Canadian workers. The new allegations also paint the grim reality of how the foreign worker program is also failing to uphold Canadian values and treat foreign workers at the same standard as Canadians.

In recent weeks, news of serious allegations of abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, centering McDonalds Canada have surfaced. This on the heels of a year where the program was given negative publicity after a number of news came out accusing the program of failing to measure up to the standards that former Immigration Minister and now Employment Minister, Jason Kenney and the Canadian Government have repeatedly said it wants to uphold. In April of 2013, there was a public outcry over Royal Bank of Canada replacing a small group of Canadian staff with temporary foreign workers. Ottawa in turn, announced several measures intended to close loopholes in the program. They included temporarily suspending the accelerated labour market opinion process, which allowed approved employers to bring in foreign workers faster, and removing an option that allowed employers to pay foreign workers up to 15 per cent less than the average comparable wage in the region.

The Government of Canada has decided in the midst of these latest allegations, to launch an extensive investigation in order to determine the facts and decide whether or not actual abuse of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program has been committed by the Restaurant Industry and its employer participants. The Labour Market Opinions in this area and industry have therefore been suspended, and employers in question have been given notice of the pending investigation into the abuse of the Labour Market Opinion process.

This decision has taken many by surprise, including businesses as they decried a lack of consultation and said the move would force some employers to close shop. There are also the thousands of foreign workers whose work permits are about to expire and they are not able to apply for an extension and may be forced to leave Canada. This latest spotlight on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program has also shed light to what many see as abuse of foreign workers who receive a lower average salary than a Canadian or a permanent resident.

“I knew a shoe was going to drop, but this was both shoes. This is a far bigger reaction than what I thought,” said Dan Kelly, head of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

“In the minister’s province of Alberta many small businesses will teeter on [the brink of] survival based on this decision.”

Jason Kenney said his office will not process any new or pending labour market opinion applications in the food sector. The opinions are required before permission is granted to hire a temporary foreign worker. As well, any restaurant that has already obtained an LMO but hasn’t yet filled the position will be unable to do so.

“Abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program will not be tolerated,” Kenney said in the statement.

Ian Tostenson, president of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association, said he agreed the program needs review but that Kenney has overreacted. “There are a lot of small business people in British Columbia who are wondering what this means for them. It’s chaos. We would have really liked a heads up.”

Vancouver based Immigration Consultant and managing director of CICS Immigration Consulting Inc., Alex Khadempour, also agreed that a review of the program is needed. However, he believes a bigger issue needs to be looked at and talked about. “Do Canadians want to continue to go towards the direction where many foreign workers, especially in certain sectors, being treated as second class? Not only are we seeing a declining working environment, including lower pay, but we are also seeing the Canadian government closing the doors on them becoming permanent residents.” His comment refers to the recent changes in the Canadian Experience Class, a permanent residency program, where food service supervisors where removed from the program.

Which Canadian Employers are directly affected by the moratorium?

To be affected by the moratorium, employers must meet 2 criteria.

The employer MUST be:

Classified under North American Industry Classification System 722, defined as establishments primarily engaged in preparing meals, snacks and beverages, to customer order, for immediate consumption on and off the premises. This subsector does not include food service activities that occur within establishments such as hotels, civic and social associations, amusement and recreation parks, and theatres. However, leased food-service locations in facilities such as hotels, shopping malls, airports and department stores are included.

AND

Currently applying for LMOs for occupations related to specific National Occupational Classification codes(NOC 2006). List of NOC codes occupations affected by the moratorium in the Food Services Sector (NAIC 722):

  • 6641 Food Counter Attendants, Kitchen Helpers and Related Occupations
  • 0631 Restaurant and Food Service Managers
  • 6212 Food Service Supervisors
  • 6453 Food and Beverage Servers
  • 6611 Cashiers
  • 6241 Chefs
  • 6242 Cooks
  • 6252 Bakers
  • 0611 Sales, Marketing and Advertising Managers
  • 0621 Retail Trade Managers
  • 0632 Accommodation Service Managers
  • 0651 Other Services Managers
  • 6211 Retail Trade Supervisors
  • 6213 Executive Housekeepers
  • 6214 Dry Cleaning and Laundry Supervisors
  • 6215 Cleaning Supervisors
  • 6216 Other Service Supervisors
  • 6221 Technical Sales Specialists – Wholesale Trade
  • 6251 Butchers, Meat Cutters and Fishmongers – Retail and Wholesale
  • 6411 Sales Representatives – Wholesale Trade (Non-Technical)
  • 6421 Retail Salespersons and Sales Clerks
  • 6451 Maîtres d’hôtel and Hosts/Hostesses
  • 6452 Bartenders
  • 6484 Other Personal Service Occupations
  • 6622 Grocery Clerks and Store Shelf Stockers
  • 6623 Other Elemental Sales Occupations
  • 6651 Security Guards and Related Occupations
  • 6661 Light Duty Cleaners
  • 6662 Specialized Cleaners
  • 6663 Janitors, Caretakers and Building Superintendents
  • 6681 Dry Cleaning and Laundry Occupations
  • 6682 Ironing, Pressing and Finishing Occupations
  • 6683 Other Elemental Service Occupations

Which Temporary Foreign Workers are affected by the moratorium?

Temporary foreign workers already in Canada who have a valid work permit issued under a Food Services Sector LMO may continue working as per their present work permit conditions.

Temporary foreign workers who have been approved for a work permit by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) but have not yet arrived in Canada will not be affected. They will remain eligible for a work permit at a port of entry, if they are otherwise admissible to Canada.

Foreign nationals who have not yet had a decision made on their work permit application will be affected. Foreign nationals who submitted their work permit application prior to the suspension will be notified that their work permit application is suspended until a final decision is made on the LMO.

Foreign nationals who apply directly at a port of entry, a visa post or inland office for a work permit after their LMO has been suspended cannot be issued a work permit based on that LMO.

What happens to a person who is currently in Canada and whose work permit from an affected occupational area is about to expire, and who was about to apply for an extension?

The LMO will have been suspended; therefore the processing of the work permit extension application will also be suspended until a final decision on the suspended LMO is made by ESDC.

When their original work permit expires, a person in this situation may have implied status if their work permit application was submitted prior to the expiry of their present work permit. This means that they will be able to remain in Canada and continue working for the same employer that appeared on their original work permit. People in this situation will continue to have implied status until a final decision is made on their work permit extension application.

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Breaking News: New 2014 Occupation List and Cap limits for Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) and Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

Breaking News FSWP 2014April 23, 2014 —  Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander today announced new measures in key economic immigration programs to prepare for next year’s launch of Express Entry, Canada’s new active recruitment model.

To prepare for the launch of Express Entry in 2015, Citizenship and Immigration Canada will begin accepting applications under new caps for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) and Canadian Experience Class (CEC), starting May 1, 2014. These measures will ensure a steady supply of skilled workers who are settling in Canada permanently and helping to supplement the Canadian workforce in areas where there are skills shortages.

Federal Skilled Worker Program:

Federal Skilled Workers are chosen as permanent residents based on their ability to prosper in Canada. They are assessed according to a selection grid made up of six factors, including language, education, work experience, etc.

  • Overall cap of 25,000 applications in eligible occupations stream
  • Cap of 500 applications for PhD eligibility stream
  • No limit on applicants who have a valid job offer from a Canadian employer
  • Sub-caps of 1,000 applications for each of the 50 eligible occupations below (their 2011 National Occupational Classification (NOC) code is included in brackets):
  1. Senior managers – financial, communications and other business services (0013)
  2. Senior managers – trade, broadcasting and other services, n.e.c. (0015)
  3. Financial managers (0111)
  4. Human resources managers (0112)
  5. Purchasing managers (0113)
  6. Insurance, real estate and financial brokerage managers (0121)
  7. Managers in health care (0311)
  8. Construction managers (0711)
  9. Home building and renovation managers (0712)
  10. Managers in natural resources production and fishing (0811)
  11. Manufacturing managers (0911)
  12. Financial auditors and accountants (1111)
  13. Financial and investment analysts (1112)
  14. Securities agents, investment dealers and brokers (1113)
  15. Other financial officers (1114)
  16. Professional occupations in advertising, marketing and public relations (1123)
  17. Supervisors, finance and insurance office workers (1212)
  18. Property administrators (1224)
  19. Geoscientists and oceanographers (2113)
  20. Civil engineers (2131)
  21. Mechanical engineers (2132)
  22. Electrical and electronics engineers (2133)
  23. Petroleum engineers (2145)
  24. Information systems analysts and consultants (2171)
  25. Database analysts and data administrators (2172)
  26. Software engineers and designers (2173)
  27. Computer programmers and interactive media developers (2174)
  28. Mechanical engineering technologists and technicians (2232)
  29. Construction estimators (2234)
  30. Electrical and electronics engineering technologists and technicians (2241)
  31. Industrial instrument technicians and mechanics (2243)
  32. Inspectors in public and environmental health and occupational health and safety (2263)
  33. Computer network technicians (2281)
  34. Nursing co-ordinators and supervisors (3011)
  35. Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses (3012)
  36. Specialist physicians (3111)
  37. General practitioners and family physicians (3112)
  38. Dietitians and nutritionists (3132)
  39. Audiologists and speech-language pathologists (3141)
  40. Physiotherapists (3142)
  41. Occupational therapists (3143)
  42. Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists (3214)
  43. Medical radiation technologists (3215)
  44. Medical sonographers (3216)
  45. Licensed practical nurses (3233)
  46. Paramedical occupations (3234)
  47. University professors and lecturers (4011)
  48. Psychologists (4151)
  49. Early childhood educators and assistants (4214)
  50. Translators, terminologists and interpreters (5125)

Federal Skilled Trades Program:

This program is for people who want to become permanent residents based on being qualified in a skilled trade.

  • Overall cap of 5,000 applications
  • All 90 skilled trades from the following NOC Skill Level B groups are eligible (with sub-caps of 100 applications each):
    • Major Group 72: Industrial, electrical and construction trades;
    • Major Group 73: Maintenance and equipment operation trades;
    • Major Group 82: Supervisors and technical occupations in national resources, agriculture and related production;
    • Major Group 92: Processing, manufacturing and utilities supervisors and central control operators;
    • Minor Group 632: chefs and cooks;
    • Minor Group 633: butchers and bakers.

Canadian Experience Class:

This program is for people who already have skilled work experience in Canada and want to immigrate permanently.

  • Overall cap of 8,000 applications
  • Sub-caps of 200 applications each for any NOC B occupation
  • Six ineligible occupations: administrative officers (NOC code 1221), administrative assistants (1241), accounting technicians/bookkeepers (1311), cooks (6322), food service supervisors (6311), and retail sales supervisors (6211).

The new Ministerial Instructions will also re-confirm the existing pause of applications to the federal Immigrant Investor and Entrepreneur Programs.

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Canada to make both Irish and UK temporary skilled workers a priority in 2014 through the IEC program

Ireland Canada IECIreland has had a difficult last six years. The Celtic Tiger Economy refers to the economy of the Republic of Ireland between 1995 and 2000, a period of rapid real economic growth fuelled by foreign direct investment, and a subsequent property price bubble which rendered the real economy uncompetitive. The Irish economy expanded at an average rate of 9.4% between 1995 and 2000 and continued to grow at an average rate of 5.9% during the following decade until 2008, when it fell into recession. Since 2008, many Irish youth have been looking for opportunities abroad.

Irish national youth speak good English, are well educated by world renowned universities, come highly skilled and can easily assimilate into developed economies in countries such as Canada. Traditionally, Irish Nationals have come to Canada via the IEC (International Experience Canada) Program, which has been continuously upping their quota of Irish visas extended every year. The working holiday visa under IEC has worked well in the past. The Program has served as a two year work experience open permit for foreign nationals between the ages of 18 and 30. It is understood that at the end of a working holiday visa, that the foreign national return to their home country, and be in possession of a departure ticket as well as the needed travel funds and medical insurance to ensure their stay is fully covered. A participation fee of CDN$150 is also payable at time of application.

The IEC Program – History and growth

The highly anticipated opening of the IEC Program on March 13, 2014 was capped at its maximum quota (3,850 applicants) within 7 minutes. We anticipate a second round shortly; however, it is proving challenging for applicants to successfully obtain their visa through this program as demand for the program outweighs current resource levels to run the program.

This year’s IEC Program made a further 2,500 work permits available to Irish Nationals who already have a secured job offer in Canada, and an additional 500 work permits were issued to Irish foreign nationals who were willing to do a cooperative educational program as part of their Post-Secondary studies to gain international work experience in their field. And these current quotas of work permits are expected to grow.

Canada needs highly skilled workers and wants to attract them to fill temporary skilled labour shortages specifically in the western provinces. Canada has recently renewed a commitment to Ireland to extend the open permit after several visits to Ireland by Minister of Citizenship & Immigration in 2012 and praised Irish apprenticeship programs for their certification standards. The Calgary Economic Development has just sent a delegation of 6 companies to Dublin’s Working Abroad Expo Recruitment Fair (March 22-March 30, 2014) in order to recruit skilled labour to fill Alberta’s current shortages.

Trade agreement set-up between Canada and the UK and Ireland

Canada wants to do even more to attract skilled labour from Ireland and the United Kingdom. On March 14, 2014, it was announced by CIC that a new international study will be launched, in an effort to help British and Irish tradespeople assess their skills against Canadian trades criteria, fully supported by CIC. In other words, streamlining the foreign credential recognition process for people coming from these countries is a high priority for the Canadian Government. The ACCC (Association of Canadian Community Colleges) and the UK NARIC (United Kingdom National Recognition Information Centre) have signed an agreement to work together for mutual recognition of skills, competencies and certifications. Both organizations will work with employers as part of the CIC-funded Canadian Immigrant Integration Program, which provides settlement and integration services to newcomers in Canada. Specifically, the organizations will be concentrating on the following areas of international competency which are in high demand across Canada:

  1. Heavy Duty Equipment Technician
  2. Construction Electrician
  3. Welder
  4. Carpenter
  5. Steamfitter/Pipefitter
  6. Plumber
  7. Machinist
  8. Industrial Mechanic (Millwright)
  9. Powerline Technician

As well, electronic tools are currently being developed, and UK NARIC expects to have an electronic guide published that will feature all the provincial and territorial apprenticeship authorities, which will be a “textbook” to be used by employers, workers, and trade associations in order to assess credentials quickly and fast-track the process for a foreign national to obtain their trade certification. This program intends to assist the Federal Skilled Trades Program applicants under the Federal Stream, in creating an international partnership and streamlined process of integration into the Canadian economy.

What to do if you want to immigrate to Canada

If you are currently a tradesperson from Ireland or the United Kingdom, you want to ensure that you know which program you wish to apply for to immigrate to Canada. As mentioned before, there is the IEC Program but it quickly reaches its cap, preventing further applicants from applying. If you have a job offer, you can apply for a work permit to come to Canada. If you meet the area of skills needed across Canada in the Trades, then the Federal Skilled Trades Program may be a good fit. There are other Federal Programs and Provincial Programs which also may be considered such as the Canadian Experience Class Program, the Provincial Nominee Programs, as well as special projects (Pilot Projects). Before applying, consider talking to either a trusted advisor or an immigration expert that can advise you on the best program for you. It is vital to do your research into Canadian culture, to look at foreign credential recognition as the first order of business, and to consider the expense of immigrating to a new country as a temporary worker. For skilled workers already in Canada, you will want to ensure that you have started additional applications working towards permanent residency status should you wish to stay in Canada.

Some final considerations

As the Federal Government continues to develop strategies to attract temporary foreign workers and to meet the economic demands of Canadian industry, it is abundantly clear that good sources of workers are coming from Ireland and the UK due to their adaptability and skills. As the IEC Program has reached its quota since launching in March 2014, many Canadian employers may not successfully recruit their temporary workers this year. Demand is high and is only expected to grow. But again, there are other options available to these employers and workers, should they wish to avail of other immigration programs on offer in either of the Federal or Provincial programs. And CICS Immigration can certainly help in assessing your eligibility in looking at other immigration avenues to pursue.

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Nearly 10,000 Immigrants admitted through Canadian Experience Class in 2012

A total of 9,780 individuals became permanent residents of Canada through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) in 2012 (Citizenship and Immigration Canada)

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced on Thursday that the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) admitted a record 9,780 immigrants in 2012, a 30 percent increase from the number admitted in 2011.

The increase is part of a long term plan to make the CEC a bigger part of the immigration system, which CIC set upon after concluding that individuals with prior Canadian work experience were more likely to successfully integrate into Canada’s labour market and economy as permanent residents.

The CEC requires a foreign national to have work experience in Canada in a skilled occupation, defined as an occupation in NOC 0, A or B, in order to qualify for permanent residence.

The requirements for qualifying under the CEC were made more permissive in January 2013, when the minimum two year Canadian work experience requirement was reduced to one year.

For applicants in the post-graduate stream of the program, the time frame during which they could obtain their work experience was increased from up to two years prior the date of the application, to three years.

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney lauded the increase in the number of people using the CEC in 2012, and said the program benefits the Canadian economy.

“The CEC allows these skilled and educated individuals to bring their skills and talents, contribute to our economy and help renew our workforce so that Canada remains competitive on the world stage,” said Kenney.

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Canada to Keep Immigration Level at 250,000 in 2013

International students in Vancouver, Canada. CIC is seeking to increase the percentage of immigrants admitted under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), which allows temporary foreign workers and international students in Canada to apply for permanent residence if they have Canadian work experience (CICS News)

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced today that it will keep immigration levels at 240,000-265,000 in 2013, for the seventh straight year. The maintenance of immigration numbers from previous years amidst a growing Canadian population means Canada will have a lower immigration rate as a percentage of its population, and rebuff calls by several prominent organizations to increase immigration levels to one percent of Canada’s population.

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said earlier this year that Canada would hold off on increasing immigration levels until the country does a better job of bringing immigrant employment and income rates up to the Canadian average, and until public sentiment, which in some recent opinion polls weighs against increases in immigration levels, supports higher levels.

CIC said that it also intends to increase the number of new permanent residents admitted through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program from 6,000 in 2011 to 10,000 in 2013.

The Canadian Experience Class was created in 2008 to allow individuals residing in Canada on temporary resident visas to transition to permanent residence. Foreign temporary workers with at least two years of Canadian work experience, and foreign graduates of Canadian post-secondary institutions with at least one year of Canadian work experience are eligible to immigrate under the program, which CIC says admits the kind of immigrants that would be more likely to integrate well into the Canadian labour market.

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