Liberal review of temporary foreign worker program welcomed by some Alberta businesses

The federal government wants to look at changes to the temporary foreign worker program brought in by the previous Conservative regime.

Restrictions brought in by previous government will tighten this year

Employment minister MaryAnn Mihychuk wants a parliamentary committee to review changes to the temporary foreign worker program brought in by the previous government. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The federal government wants to look at changes to the temporary foreign worker program brought in by the previous Conservative regime. 

The changes, which put a cap on the number of temporary foreign workers for businesses, were announced in June 2014. The federal employment minister will ask a parliamentary committee to conduct the review.

If no changes are made, employers with 10 or more staff will be expected to reduce the number of low-wage, temporary foreign workers they hire per job site to 10 per cent from the current 20 per cent, by July 1.

"The previous government's plan failed workers, businesses and Canadians, and undermined confidence in the program," said Employment Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk in a written statement to CBC News on Thursday.

Alberta impact

Despite the economic downturn in Alberta, there is still demand for the workers. 

Fred Bexte runs a convenience store in Brooks and has several foreign workers on his staff. He says he can't find local workers and he's not alone. 

"Everybody has got foreign workers," he said.

Bexte says he's pleased the federal Liberals are going to take a look at how the temporary foreign workers program is working.

"We all know the cycle of boom-bust in Alberta, and it's just going to be a matter of time before we're in the same position where we were two years ago, where we couldn't find people at all," he said. 

Under the current rules, any region with unemployment rates over six per cent are barred from hiring temporary foreign workers. Alberta's current rate is 7.4 per cent.

The review will be done by the committee on human resources, but no timeframe has been set.

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