Foreign worker changes welcome (Guest commentary)

New application faster and workers can stay longer
By Dwayne Runke
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 03/25/2007

On Feb. 23, 2007, Monte Solberg, the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, and Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, announced improvements to the temporary foreign worker program. This program allows employers to fill labour shortages in specified occupations under pressure by employing foreign workers temporarily if the Canadian labour market has been exhausted.

One change to the program includes an online “foreign worker application” or “application for a labour market opinion” (LMO) that becomes functional on April 1. The LMO application is the first step for an employer to hire a foreign worker and has several criteria the company must meet before a temporary worker can start the application for a work permit. First, the employer must have made all efforts to obtain Canadian employees and demonstrated its willingness to train these workers. Second, the company must agree the temporary foreign workers will be compensated similarly to Canadian workers who might have been employed if there was no labour shortage. Third, the company must provide foreign workers with a working environment that meets labour market standards and the employer must show how the hiring of foreign workers will positively influence the Canadian labour market.

According to Finley, the online application will “reduce the time that employers have to wait to get the workers they need.”