Major changes to foreign worker policy expected: Reports

Possibly fewer workers allowed, greater transparency, more inspections

TORONTO (Reuters) — The Canadian government plans to cap the number of low-wage temporary foreign workers that employers can bring to Canada as part of sweeping policy reforms that will be announced later on Friday, according to reports in Canadian media outlets.

The government will limit the number of foreign workers that companies, such as restaurants, can have at any location based on a percentage of their work force, according to a report in the Globe and Mail. The measure is expected to halve the number of people brought into the country each year for low-wage positions, which was 31,000 last year.

The government has been under pressure to make changes to Canada's temporary foreign worker program, following reports of alleged abuses of the program by several employers.

In April, Canada said it would not allow restaurants to hire any more temporary foreign workers until the government completed a review of a program set up as a last resort for employers to fill jobs when no qualified Canadians are available.

At the time, Jason Kenney, the minister for employment and social development, said Canada was considering unspecified reforms of the program to make sure employers recruit and train Canadians for jobs.

CBC News said it has learned that in an effort to make the program more transparent, the government plans to publish the names of companies that have been given a permit to bring in foreign workers. It also plans to disclose the number of workers each company is allowed under the program.

The government plans to cut the length of time a temporary foreign worker can stay in Canada. Currently that period is four years, but it is not yet clear by how much that will be reduced, said the CBC News report.

A report from CTV said the government plans to significantly boost the number of business inspections, and will impose tough penalties and heavy fines on companies that abuse the program.

The reports all cited unnamed sources.

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