Several employers looking to hire temporary foreign workers have encountered significant delays, as demand for migrant workers in Canada has increased.
According to the federal government, the number of applications has increased by almost 25 per cent over the last 12 months, which is partly because of Canada’s low unemployment rates, The Canadian Press reported.
Employers seeking migrant workers in the “low-skill stream” have to wait for more than 100 days before knowing if their labour market impact assessments will be approved. These assessments are necessary in order to prove the employer needs to hire foreign workers and that there are no Canadian workers that could fill the vacancies.
Meanwhile, processing times for the “high-wage stream” are at 85 days, the report added.
“Unemployment is at a historic low, reaching levels that have not been seen since 1976,” said Veronique Simard, a spokeswoman for Labour Minister Patty Hajdu. “While this economic success is good for business, it is also creating challenges for employers who are struggling to find enough workers to meet demand.
“The temporary-foreign-worker program continues to experience an increased volume of labour market impact assessment applications across Canada. Recognizing the urgency of the labour shortage in Quebec and the rest of Canada, our government is taking steps to improve service delivery for the TFW program.”
A study, partly funded by the federal government, found that the situation is likely to worsen if no actions are taken. In 2017, 1,800 job vacancies in Atlantic Canada were unable to be filled due to a shortage of fish-plant workers and an additional 2,500 workers will be needed over the next five years to replace retirees, the study said.
Leah Nord of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said that continuous delays in hiring temporary foreign workers will be financial damaging for companies, who are becoming frustrated with the red tape in the system.
“If there are even more delays, that’s just going to increase the frustration,” she said.”
The group has put forward several proposals to modernize of the application process, including the introduction of a “trusted employer” program, which could reduce waiting time for applications of businesses that have a clean record of following the program’s rules.