Canadian Government Announces Moratorium for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program


In a recent announcement from the Canadian Department of Employment and Social Development, Employment Minister Jason Kenney enacted a moratorium on applications to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program for companies classified as “Food Services and Drinking Places” by the North American Industrial Classification System. In a public statement accompanying the moratorium, Mr. Kenney stated that “this moratorium will remain in effect until the completion of the ongoing review of the temporary foreign workers program.”

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program was intended to be an immigration category of last resort in situations where Canadian employers faced a shortage of skilled Canadian workers and required foreign workers in order to remain operational. Recent allegations suggest that the system is being taken advantage of and is not being used as a last resort for employers.

Mr. Kenney was empowered to issue this moratorium as a result of a Ministerial Instruction issued on December 31, 2013, which stated that the Department of Employment and Social Development could suspend or revoke LMOs or refuse to process these applications if there were relevant public policy considerations that made a moratorium appropriate.

The moratorium involves the immediate cessation of the processing of Labour Market Opinions (LMOs), a tool for the assessment of the need for a foreign worker, in the food services industry. This decision will affect the ability of prospective applicants to fill any job in food services through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, and deny them entry into several occupations, including cashiers, counter attendants, chefs, supervisors, and managers.

The decision was a result of allegations of abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program by employers in the Food Services industry. The allegations came from a variety of sources, such as think tanks and Canadian citizens voicing their concerns through Service Canada’s confidential tip line. Amidst the controversy, Minister Jason Kenney took to Twitter to state his government’s continuing commitment to immigration. Kenney stated that the Canadian government “increased immigration to record levels, the highest per capita in the developed world,” and  noted that it also “ tripled the number of ‘temporary foreign workers’ who obtain permanent residency.” The suspension of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in this particular industry was justified as an opportunity for the government to reform the program and improve its effectiveness for both Canadian employers and Canadian immigrants.

For details on how this change to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program could affect an immigration application, prospective applicants to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program should seek legal advice to ensure their chances of success in the Canadian immigration system is maximized and to seek out the immigration program most appropriate for them.

FWCanada is a Montreal-based immigration law firm that provides professional legal services on Canadian immigration. For more tips and updates on Canadian immigration follow FWCanada on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.

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