Canadian Businesses Call on Feds to Expand Temporary Foreign Worker Program

55 per cent of Canadian businesses say they can't find all the staff they need.

Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) are calling on the federal government to temporarily open the Temporary Foreign Worker program to all jobs, in all sectors and in all regions to address the immediate shortage of labour within Canada. Shortages of skilled and unskilled and semiskilled workers were the top two factors limiting small businesses’ sales and growth according to the CFIB’s independent study. Quebec and New Brunswick are the hardest hit provinces, with 64% and 60% of small businesses, respectively, experiencing labour shortages.

Many Canadians believe that the reason for labour shortages are due to wages not keeping up with the cost of living. Rising inflation has led to widespread panic for consumers but Corinne Pohlmann, Senior Vice-President of National Affairs at CFIB says that small businesses have been doing all they can to attract workers, including increasing wages. With the continued labour shortage the government needs to be creative during these unprecedented times to help small businesses with their recovery.

Canadian workers are fast becoming hot commodities in a tight labour market and companies are increasingly forced to raise wages to fill jobs – and retain existing staff – a factor likely to complicate the Bank of Canada‘s efforts to tame inflation. Looming interest rate hikes have Canadians increasingly worried about making ends meet, according to a recent Ipsos survey.

Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). Shortages of skilled (45 per cent) and unskilled and semiskilled (36 per cent) workers were the top two factors limiting small businesses’ sales and growth

Canadian Federation of Independent Business also says labour shortages are stalling small business recovery. These shortages were highlighted by business owners in CFIB’s Business Barometer survey. Businesses in social services and hospitality are the most likely to report that their employees have changed industries due to the pandemic, leaving large vacuums that are difficult to fill. While only 16 per cent of small businesses reported using the TFW program to deal with labour shortages, those that were able to use it reported a high level of success compared to other measures.

 CFIB has written a letter to Minister Fraser calling on the government to make the following changes to the TFW program to help address the shortage of labour within Canada:

  • Improve and simplify the processes for the TFW Program and permanent immigration system to bring foreign workers to Canada faster.
  • Open the TFW program to all types of jobs and all sectors, regardless of the prevailing regional unemployment rate as a temporary measure to address immediate labour shortages caused by the pandemic.
  • Temporarily waive employer fees for small business owners seeking to use the TFW program.
  • Ensure that job-seekers match the demands in the job market found within Canada to create a good fit between immigrants and the positions they are coming in to fill.

“Small businesses were already reporting labour shortages before the pandemic. The lockdowns and shifts in the labour market brought on by COVID have only exacerbated the situation and made it more difficult for businesses to find staff. Small businesses will not be able to recover if they cannot find the people they need to get their products and services to market. A significant temporary boost to the TFW program for all industries and skill levels, together with a pathway to permanent residency for temporary workers, would be a big help to small businesses.”

Dan Kelly, President of Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)

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