Temporary Foreign Worker Program Put on Ice

McDonalds has been accused of hiring TFW instead of Canadians.
McDonalds has been accused of hiring TFW instead of Canadians.

McDonalds has been accused of hiring TFW instead of Canadians.
McDonalds has been accused of hiring TFW instead of Canadians.

Restaurant Workers Hiring Plans Iced

OTTAWA – BUSINESS – The federal government has put the brakes on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFW) for the food industry. The decision comes as increasing evidence that companies were using the TFW program to by-pass hiring Canadian workers.

McDonald’s Canada was hit hard when allegations that some of the company’s franchise owners were hiring foreign workers over Canadian workers. A report on CBC Television airing the audio from a conference call has McDonalds in damage control mode.

The popular restaurant has issued a statement: On April 24, 2014 CBC News’ The National aired edited segments of a confidential conference call between McDonald’s Canada President and CEO, John Betts, and company franchisees. The call was scheduled by McDonald’s Canada to discuss, with candour, our concerns about the use of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in our restaurants, the immediate and effective steps we were taking to address any issues and to express our deep concerns about media coverage by the CBC.

“McDonald’s Canada has built a strong reputation for being open, honest and transparent in all our communications and dialogue with consumers. We do not shy away from accepting responsibility and taking ownership in areas where we can do better. We recognize that we have work to do to make things right with regard to our use of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

“From the very outset, McDonald’s Canada has acted swiftly and forcefully to investigate and address any and all allegations. We do not tolerate any misuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, any breach of employment standards or any infractions of any kind against our employees. McDonald’s Canada immediately launched a comprehensive review of our corporate and franchised restaurants that use the program and earlier this week announced our decision to voluntarily freeze all Labour Market Opinions (LMOs) on a temporary basis. We are also engaging an independent third party audit of all our corporate and franchised restaurants that employ temporary foreign workers.

“McDonald’s Canada is a responsible, ethical and caring employer. We have demonstrated this clearly in our actions in this matter. McDonald’s hires Canadians first. We have a longstanding track record of job creation in Canada, with 85,000 employees across the country. Most importantly, we are committed to helping thousands of young Canadians every year find the critical first job experience that can launch a career”.

Minister Jason Kenney Explains Moratorium

Minister Jason Kenney stated, “Our Government has been clear: Canadians must have the first chance at available jobs. We have repeatedly warned employers that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program must only be used as a last and limited resort when Canadians are not available.

“In recent weeks, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has been made aware of some serious allegations of abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. In response, I directed officials to investigate these matters urgently to determine the facts, Labour Market Opinions were suspended, and employers in question were placed on a public blacklist”.

“Despite these actions, there remain serious concerns regarding the use of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in the Food Services Sector”.

As a result, I am announcing an immediate moratorium on the Food Services Sector’s access to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Accordingly, ESDC will not process any new or pending LMO applications related to the Food Services Sector. In addition, any unfilled positions tied to a previously approved LMO will be suspended. This moratorium will remain in effect until the completion of the on-going review of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

Abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program will not be tolerated. Allegations of misuse will continue to be investigated and any employer found to have violated the rules will face serious consequences. Those employers who are found to have lied about their efforts to hire Canadians could face potential criminal prosecution with sanctions that include fines and jail time.

Our government will continue to pursue significant reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to ensure that employers make greater efforts to recruit and train Canadians and that it is only used as a last and limited resort when Canadians are not available.

BACKGROUNDER

Effect of Moratorium

Pursuant to the Minister’s authority under Subsection 30(1.43) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Minister Kenney has issued Ministerial Instructions directing Service Canada to not process any new or pending LMO applications related to the Food Services Sector. In addition, any unfilled positions tied to a previously approved LMO will be suspended. This moratorium applies to occupational categories within the Food Services Sector.

Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program

This moratorium in no way affects the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program as there are proven acute labour shortages in this industry and the unfilled jobs are short term by definition.

Previous Reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program

The Government of Canada has made reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to ensure that Canadians are first in line for available jobs and to ensure that employers do not take advantage of foreign workers.

  • The authority to conduct on-site inspections to make sure employers are meeting the conditions of the program;
  • Introducing legislative authority to impose significant financial penalties for employers who break the rules;
  • The ability to ban non-compliant employers from the program for two years and immediately add their names to a public “black list”;
  • Requiring employers who legitimately rely on TFWs, due to a lack of qualified Canadian applicants, have a plan to transition to a Canadian workforce over time;
  • Requiring employers pay TFWs at or above the prevailing regional wage rate as established by Service Canada;
  • Adding questions to employer LMO applications to ensure that the TFWP is not used to facilitate the outsourcing of Canadian jobs;
  • Introducing fees for employers for LMO processing and increasing the fees for work permits, so that hard-working taxpayers are no longer subsidizing these costs;
  • Making English and French the only languages that can be used as a job requirement when hiring through the TFW process; and,
  • Suspending the Accelerated Labour Market Opinion process.

(SOURCE Employment and Social Development Canada)