The government of Canada's upcoming federal budget will include long-awaited reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), according to Employment Minister Patty Hajdu. Reforming the program has been a priority since the Liberal government took office 15 months ago.
The TFWP allows Canadian employers to hire foreign nationals to fill labour shortages in Canada, while ensuring that Canadian citizens and permanent residents have the first opportunity to apply for open job positions. Some reforms to the program — including the removal of a controversial "four-in, four-out" provision that required certain workers to leave Canada for four years upon completion of four years' work in Canada — have already taken place.
“I’m actually chomping at the bit to get some of that news out, but as you know, the budget will be released shortly and many of our actions are tied to the budget,” said Minister Hajdu in an interview with the Globe and Mail newspaper.
In September of last year, a parliamentary committee published a list of recommendations for reforming the TFWP, including easier pathways to permanent residence for foreign workers and simpler ways for businesses to respond to labour market needs.
Members of Parliament had called for stronger government protections for workers, to mitigate rare cases of worker abuse in lower-paid positions. They also highlighted some of the more onerous TFWP requirements, including the requirement for employers offering high-skilled roles to provide a transition plan, showcasing how the employer planned to wean itself off the program over time.
Further to that report, the government recently announced its aim to process work permit applications for certain positions within two weeks.
The government had until this week to respond to the committee’s advice. The announcement that reforms will be included in the budget, which is expected to be released in late February or early March, is seen, for the time being, as the response.