OTTAWA, Ont. — Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) and Citizenship and Immigration Canada are updating the Temporary Foreign Worker Program that fleets have been using to tackle shortages of long-haul truck drivers.
The changes to the related Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, which come into force on April 1, will address:
– Genuineness of job offers: This will involve assessing an employer’s ability to meet the terms of a job offer; determining if the business is legitimate and actively engaged in the province in which a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) is submitted; and verifying that the job offer is consistent with the employer’s reasonable employment needs. Reviews will also need to determine that employers and third-party agents acting on their behalf have a history of complying with the federal, provincial and territorial laws which regulate employment and recruitment.
– Compliance review: This makes sure that wages and working conditions have, over the two years preceding an LMO application, been “substantially the same” as the original job offers to temporary foreign workers. Employers will be barred from the Temporary Foreign Work Program for two years if there is any difference between a job and its related verbal or written offer. Fleets will still have the opportunity to justify any differences – accounting for issues such as accounting problems or errors that were made unintentionally – and to compensate foreign workers where necessary. Ineligible employers will be posted on Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s Web site.
– Cumulative duration: Temporary Foreign Workers who accumulate four years of work under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program will be barred from working in Canada for the next four years. Employers are responsible for ensuring that job applicants have not reached the limit. These calculations for accumulated time will begin April 1.
Fleets that are familiar with the program may notice an increase in paperwork when applying for the related LMO, according to officials.
The LMO applications are assessed by factors listed in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. These ask whether employing a foreign national will directly create or retain a job for Canadian citizens or permanent residents, create or transfer skills and knowledge to benefit Canadian citizens or permanent residents, fill a labour shortage, or adversely affect the settlement of a labour dispute. Wages need to be consistent with the occupation’s prevailing rate, and working conditions need to meet generally acceptable Canadian standards. In addition to that, employers need to make reasonable efforts to hire or train Canadian citizens and permanent residents.
There are other standards to be met when hiring a foreign worker in a lower-skilled occupation. Employers in these cases need to sign a contract with employees to outline wages, duties, and conditions related to the transportation, accommodation, health and occupational safety of the foreign workers. They also must cover recruiting costs; consult with the local union if the position is covered under a collective agreement; help find suitable and affordable accommodations; pay the worker’s full airfare to and from their home country; provide medical coverage until the worker is eligible for provincial health insurance; and register workers through provincial workers compensation or workplace safety insurance plan.
Each LMO will be limited to six months, helping to ensure that identified labour market conditions still exist when a Temporary Foreign Worker applies for a work permit. Once that opinion expires, however, employers will need to submit new LMO applications if they want to retain or hire temporary foreign workers.
The positions on an LMO which have yet to lead to work permits can be revoked if an application is found to contain false or misleading information, or if the facts that led to an original opinion happen to change.
Fleets that want to change a Temporary Foreign Worker’s terms of employment – such as the wages, working conditions or specific position – should first contact HRSDC/Service Canada. Employers are also required to retain records which prove that existing conditions are substantially the same as an original offer.
The Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council offers a number of tools to help fleets that want to explore the options of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. For more information on these products, visit www.cthrc.com.
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