CFIB sets the record straight on Temporary Foreign Workers

MP’s sent a real-life stories that shows how small businesses use and benefit from the program.

TORONTO — Concerned about the effect federal government changes will have on the Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) program, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has sent MPs a report that shows first-hand how small businesses depend on it.

Earlier this year the program was assailed when RBC used it to outsource jobs already done by Canadians to foreign workers. The federal government responded by announcing several changes to the program, among them: an application fee for a labour market opinion (LMO); an increase to the price of the work permit; and a suspension of the accelerated process for an LMO.

CFIB is concerned the changes will put the program, which is considered to involve a process that is already long and expensive, out of small companies’ reach.

Making It Work aims to give Canada’s 308 MPs a “new perspective” on the program that many small businesses depend on to survive by detailing their experiences with it.

One story involves Alan Champagne, who owns and runs Eco-Flex Recycled Rubber Solutions in Legal, Alta., and has made use of the program to fill jobs that Canadians don’t want.

The company recycles old car and truck tires into products ranging from rubber sidewalks and speed bumps to rubber flooring for use in homes, agricultural and industrial applications.

“I depend on the temporary foreign workers I’ve hired to make my business run and I don’t see that changing in the near future,” he says, noting eight of his 30 workers come from the program. “I would probably have to shut down my business if not for temporary foreign workers.”

He describes how in Legal, a small town about a half hour from Edmonton where his business is based, it’s almost impossible to retain good people because of all the opportunities in Alberta.

Despite efforts made to retain general labourers over the years, including investing in their skills development, they end up leaving for higher paying jobs in the oil patch. “We’ve tried raising salaries for general labourers, offering bonuses for years of service. Nothing works.”

“While the program may have been mis-used by a few large companies, small firms use it to fill in gaps where no Canadians are able or willing to work,” says CFIB president Dan Kelly. “These are stories of need, not greed.”

Click here for a copy of the report.