Family members of most temporary foreign workers (TFWs) in British Columbia will be able to work for any employer in the province, thanks to a new pilot project, according to the federal government.
“I have heard from workers, employers, labour advocates and others who have asked me to make Canada more welcoming for working families coming to Canada as temporary residents,” said Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney. “With this pilot project, we will examine the benefits of allowing family members of temporary foreign workers to work while they are here with a principal applicant who has been hired because of his or her skills.”
Starting Aug. 15, 2011, spouses, common-law partners and working-age dependants of most temporary foreign workers will be eligible for an open work permit in B.C., including many workers in occupations that require lower levels of formal training, said the government. Previously, only spouses and common-law partners of temporary foreign workers employed in a managerial, professional or skilled trades job have been eligible to obtain an open work permit.
In general, temporary foreign workers come to Canada to meet the needs of a specific employer who has been unable to find citizens or permanent residents for the available jobs. An open work permit, however, allows the holder to accept any job with any employer.
“More than a million jobs will open up in B.C. by 2020, and we will need foreign workers to help meet the skills shortages our businesses are already beginning to face,” said B.C. Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Pat Bell. “Giving more spouses and working-aged children of temporary foreign workers the chance to take jobs will support local businesses, while contributing to local, regional and provincial economic growth.”
Up to 1,800 open work permits will be available under the pilot project, which will end on Feb. 15, 2013.
In 2010, nearly 32,000 temporary foreign workers made the transition to permanent status, and of those, almost 2,300 chose to immigrate permanently to B.C., said Kenney.
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