Western Canadian Premiers Angered Over Changes To Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Western ProvincesLeaders of Canada’s Western provinces don’t always agree on everything, but they are unanimous in their opposition to new federal changes to Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program.

At their annual meeting, all the premiers of Western Canada’s provinces were strongly critical of recent changes to the TFW program that will make it more difficult to hire foreign workers in Canada.

In a statement issued at the end of their meeting, the Western premiers said “Limiting the ability to hire foreign workers to address critical labor shortages will unduly punish responsible employers in Western Canada, particularly those in smaller and remote communities where Canadian workers are not readily available.”

Dave Hancock, Alberta’s interim premier, was particularly critical of the impact that the changes to the TFW program will have on his province.

“All of us (Western premiers) agree that the (TFW) changes are detrimental to our jurisdiction,” he said. “We will continue to talk to the (federal) government about that, but we also want to talk more broadly with the federal government … on immigration policy, on labor market policy.”

The Western Canadian premiers are hoping that the current energy boom will result in a greater number of employment opportunities for Canadian citizens, especially in more rural and remote areas. To that end, the premiers are urging residents in their provinces who reside in non-urban areas to apply for the growing number of energy sector jobs.

Still, the Western premiers also agreed that there will not be a sufficient number of Canadians to fill the expected job openings, given the scope of the energy boom.

Recognizing that fact, a representative of federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney responded to the Western premiers by stating that while “(Western) employers must redouble their efforts to recruit and train Canadians”, they should also reach out to “traditionally under-represented Canadians, such as new immigrants and Canadians with disabilities.”

But the federal Employment Minister’s office was also quick to defend the recent changes to the TFW program, saying the changes “restore the TFW program to its original purpose…as a last and limited resource for employers when there are no qualified Canadians to fill available jobs.”