Canada announces changes to temporary foreign worker programme

by Ray Clancy on December 15, 2016

Changes are being made to the temporary foreign worker programme in Canada to make it easier to access jobs.

In order to prevent unnecessary hardship and instability for both workers and employers, the four-year cumulative duration rule will no longer apply to temporary foreign workers in Canada, it has been announced.

canadaThe cumulative duration rule, known as the ‘four-in, four-out’ rule, was put in place in April 2011, limiting work for some temporary foreign workers in Canada to four years who then became ineligible to work in Canada for the next four years.

Officials are working on a more comprehensive policy but these changes, taking immediate effect, have been introduced to make it easier for people to access jobs and for employers.

The aim is for people to be able to access pathways to permanent residency so that eligible applicants are able to more fully contribute to Canadian society, according to Immigration Minister John McCallum.

But he explained that there will also be efforts to ensure that Canadians have first access to available job opportunities, so the Government will require low wage employers, where appropriate, to advertise to more than one, and up to four, under-represented groups in the workforce such as young people, those with disabilities, indigenous people and newcomers. Employers will be advised when these changes are to come into effect.

The cap on the proportion of low wage temporary foreign workers that can be employed at a given worksite will remain at 20% for employers who accessed the programme prior to June 2014, and at 10% for new users of the programme after that date.

Also, the exemption on the cap for seasonal industries seeking temporary foreign workers for up to 180 days during the current calendar year will be extended until 31 December 2017.

The changes are in line with recommendations made by the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and Status of Persons with Disabilities, which undertook a study of the Temporary Foreign Worker Programme.

‘In many ways, the four year rule put a great deal of uncertainty and instability on both temporary workers and employers. We had the sense that it was an unnecessary burden on applicants and employers, and also on officers who process applications. The HUMA hearings confirmed it. We believe this important recommendation from the Committee requires rapid action, which we are taking,’ said McCallum.

MaryAnn Mihychuk, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, said that the Government is committed to making the Temporary Foreign Worker Programme work for our economy.

‘That means ensuring job opportunities are made available to Canadians first, in particular to groups typically underrepresented in the labour market, like indigenous people,’ she added.

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