New foreign worker fees could hurt clubs and arts promoters
Music promoters worry that processing fees for temporary foreign workers may make it too expensive for up and coming international acts to tour Canada.
Federal rules that came into effect on July 31 require an employer to pay a $275 for each foreign worker they want to hire.
The fee covers the costs of obtaining a labour market opinion and must be paid for foreign musicians and their touring staff for each venue they play.
Edmonton music agent Steve Derpack from JCL Productions says the fees will be a financial burden for smaller clubs.
"You're going to see effectively, the economic livelihood across the board in the arts, stop in its tracks," he said.
According to federal Employment and Social Development Minister Jason Kenney, the fee covers all foreign workers and doesn’t specifically target the arts.
"It doesn’t matter what kind of business they’re running, If they want to bring someone in from abroad, they have to go through a process," Kenney said.
"It seems quite reasonable to me that they should have to pay the cost of that."
Edmonton music promoter Ryan Walraven from Raised Fist Productions says the fees will add additional costs to a business that already operates with thin profit margins.
"Now that there's this tax, it takes our talent-buying budget and squashes it in half," he said.
The impact on clubs and promoters isn’t the only issue. Canadians may miss out on seeing newer or non-mainstream acts that aren’t big enough to play the larger venues.
"This is insane," Derpack said. "This is going to basically mean an absolute, severe halt of bands going across the border."
An online petition asking Kenney to exempt musicians from paying the LMO fees had more than 90,000 electronic signatures on Friday.
But a spokesman said that the minister had no plans to change the rules.