Improvements to the employment services system would help employers more easily fill positions.
By Matthew Mendelsohn and Ratna Omidvar, The Globe and Mail
Matthew Mendelsohn is the Director of the Mowat Centre at the School of Public Policy & Governance at the University of Toronto; Ratna Omidvar is president of the Maytree Foundation.
Last week, Employment Minister Jason Kenney announced new changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers program (TFW). Amid the recent public conversations about the TFW program and its possible future, it is an admission that the program is failing. The changes are meant to curb overuse – or in some cases inappropriate use – of the program by employers primarily in the service industry. But it’s not yet clear that the proposed changes will in any way address the problems it claims to solve.
It is worth recalling why some reputable employers liked the program.
The main reason is flexibility. Employers can fill positions quickly when there are no available workers. If a company needs workers with particular skills, and there are no qualified Canadians available, it is certainly in the public interest to bring in temporary foreign workers, rather than see that business close because it can’t find someone to hire.
But what if we could deliver the benefits of the TFW program in a way that allowed employers to meet more of their needs using workers already in the country?
During research for a report we will be releasing later this month on how government can broker better outcomes for both employers and immigrants, we interviewed 80 experts across all provinces – small and large employers, industry associations and sector councils, immigrant settlement agencies, and governments at the federal, provincial and municipal levels. There was a broad consensus on four things that we should do right now.