Canadian HR Reporter

May 15, 2017

Canadian HR Reporter is the national journal of human resource management. It features the latest workplace news, HR best practices, employment law commentary and tools and tips for employers to get the most out of their workforce.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 1 of 19

CANADIAN HR REPORTER May 15, 2017 2 NEWS Recent stories posted on Check the website daily for quick news hits from across Canada and around the world. WEB O N T H E ACROSS CANADA Science minister mulls forcing universities to attract more female researchers 'e bar isn't moving and that can't continue': Duncan Corporate Canada warns Trump's tax cut plan would hurt competitiveness 'Many firms are just sitting on cash waiting to see what happens': Business council head Does boost in child care get more women into the workforce? Finance Canada cautious about lack of data to make connection, according to documents Ontario to launch basic income pilot project in 3 regions Single people will receive up to $16,989 per year, couples up to $24,027 annually NDP says $475-million pharmacare plan could cover 125 drugs in Ontario Employers could save up to $1.9 billion if party takes power in 2018 Halifax's top bureaucrat back at work after unplanned leave Jacques Dube faced harassment complaint after sending 'humourous' text to colleague Launch of new Canadian immigration stream could be answer to Trump Canadian firms have long complained they can't find talent and get them here fast enough AROUND THE WORLD EU ponders stronger social protection as populist wave rises Proposals include creation of better work-life balance, more generous parental leave rules Trump tax plan billed as 'largest tax reform' in U.S. history Top corporate tax rate would drop from 35 per cent to 15 Indian techies, IT firms fret as Trump orders U.S. visa review Trump policies raise fears about future complications Bill O'Reilly out at Fox News Channel after 20 years Dismissal follows allegations of harassment Workplace bullying Canadian HR Reporter talks to Vitae Dynamics CEO Renée Gendron about best practices for minimizing bullying at work FEATURED VIDEO LOOKING FOR A SUPPLIER OR VENDOR? Visit e announcement followed a House of Commons committee report tabled last September, as well as the federal budget unveiled in March, which earmarked $280 million over the next five years and $50 million for each year after, to support the continued delivery and improvement of the TFWP and the International Mo- bility Program. "e changes we are making to the TFWP will help ensure that Canadians have the first opportu- nity at available jobs, that vulner- able workers are protected, and that the Canadian economy can continue to grow and thrive," said Patty Hajdu, minister of employ- ment, workforce development and labour, in a joint statement with Ahmed Hussen, minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship. "From improving express en- try to launching the Global Skills Strategy to dropping the four- year rule for temporary workers, the government has taken action on many of the recommenda- tions that the standing commit- tee put forward in fall 2016," said Hussen. New commitments include better protections for foreign workers, an increase in on-site inspections, and a pursuit of information-sharing agreements with the provinces and territories. Hiring Canadian e TFWP dates back to 1973, allowing Canadian employers to hire foreign nationals to fill tem- porary labour and skill shortages when qualified Canadian citizens or permanent residents were not available. A total of 79,000 foreign workers were approved for posi- tions in Canada in 2016 — about one-third lower than usual num- bers over the last five years. To ensure Canadians always have the first opportunity at available jobs, the government will now require employers to recruit more Canadians, par- ticularly those who are under- represented in the workforce — youth, newcomers, women, Indigenous people, and people with disabilities. But the updates do little to change the structure of the pro- gram, according to Howard Levitt, a senior partner at Levitt Employment and Labour Law in Toronto. Attempting to hire local work- ers first is already the law for em- ployers, and the House of Com- mons review has resulted in noth- ing of value in favour of a simple restating of the program's core objectives, he said. "is is a wonderful, archetypi- cal example of how government studies are entirely wastes of tax- payers' funds," said Levitt. "It's a solution in search of a problem. Employers have already learned their lesson, and tempo- rary foreign workers are being used, in my experience, only when employers really can't find eligible candidates in their market area." On a similar note, Alberta re- cently announced a two-year test project that will match employers seeking temporary foreign work- ers with liaison officers who will put them in contact with local workers, when possible. "Our government remains fo- cused on making sure that Cana- dians are always first in line for any available job," said Matt Pas- cuzzo, press secretary for Hajdu. "For example, the new pilot project announced in Alberta will help employers recruit Albertans for available jobs in Alberta and will help so many people who have been affected by the eco- nomic downturn." But employers are already re- quired to reach out to Canadian workers first, said Patrick Snider, director of skills and immigration policy at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Ottawa. "e TFWP is a very slow and expensive process for getting a hold of any kind of worker," he said. "Switching to using someone from that program is usually a last resort, and if (employers) are go- ing that route, it's because they've already exhausted their options in terms of Canada's domestic talent." And while nativism move- ments sweep across various western countries, Canada may be primed for a talent influx, bar- ring drastic legislative changes, said Snider. "It goes without saying that the more restrictive every other country is, the more opportuni- ties there are that we can take ad- vantage of," he said. "Every country has to make that balancing act for themselves. As long as we're bringing in the people that are in demand and can really contribute to our econ- omy, and we do it in a way that's responsive to employer needs, then I think we're going to con- tinue to see benefits." Additional steps The federal government also said investments in skills, train- ing and education resources can be better leveraged to identify fields with likely labour and skills shortages. To that end, it will work with sectors that are heavy users of the TFWP to create Canadian workforce development strate- gies in partnership with employ- ers, organized labour and other stakeholders. "is will include more out- reach to underrepresented groups as well as use of existing federal and provincial programming in skills and training for Canadians. is sectoral work will inform any future decisions with respect to the cap on the proportion of low-wage TFWs that a business can employ at a given time," said the government. Much of the change seems to be focused on low-wage employees in terms of outreach into under- represented sectors of workers, said Snider. "e government already runs a number of programs to assist companies in hiring members of those groups," he said. "Bringing them into the workforce is ab- solutely something we support. e question is whether that is actually going to make a differ- ence or if it's just going to be an additional administrative burden on the TFWP." It's a matter of how narrowly or broadly the government defines low-wage workers, said Snider. "If it's something where it re- stricts more skilled workers, then that becomes a bit of an issue, just because companies are al- ready doing a lot of head-hunting to try and find these people. It might make the whole process a lot slower." And when it comes to protect- ing workers, the government said it would undertake measures to provide information to TFWs regarding their rights and re- courses, and to clarify employer obligations and responsibili- ties for those that wish to hire TFWs. For example, the govern- ment will provide information to foreign workers about their rights when they first arrive in Canada and will work with com- munity organizations devoted to the protection of vulnerable foreign workers, to ensure work- ers are informed of their rights and protections when they are in Canada. Restoring trust While the changes do not repre- sent a major overhaul in terms of the program's overall direction, it remains to be seen how far the government will go with some of the announced measures, said Snider. "I don't think there's any big surprise in the direction that they're going," he said. "So far, you can see that they're being a little bit cautious with their changes, and trying to balance both sides." In looking at the govern- ment's previous announcements through the budget, or back in December, and the response to the committee, a lot of it is just a repetition of things already said, said Snider. "I do hope they're listening to the stakeholders. We've been active in terms of giving them feedback around things like the Global Skills Strategy, making sure that it really does benefit employers, as opposed to simply being a cosmetic change." As long as the administrative burden isn't significantly in- creased for employers, the gov- ernment should be pushing to enforce the rules and making sure the program is operating as it was intended, he said. "at's an important part of making sure there is trust and le- gitimacy in the program." e government has also an- nounced the upcoming June launch of a Global Talent Stream, which is meant to foster innova- tion and growth, allowing high- growth Canadian companies to attract the specialized global talent they need to innovate and expand, while assisting in filling in-demand occupations where there is a demonstrated skills gap in the domestic market, said Pascuzzo. Overall, that is where the con- cern of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce also lies, said Snider. "Our main concern is the high- skilled end of the labour market and making sure that those re- strictions that they're putting on the low-skilled end don't start af- fecting companies who are trying to fill very specialized and high- skilled positions," he said. "The devil's always in the details." TFWP 'very slow, expensive process' TFWP < pg. 1 "If it's something that restricts more skilled workers, that becomes an issue because companies are already doing a lot of head-hunting to find people."

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Canadian HR Reporter - May 15, 2017