Some restaurant employers in Nova Scotia are concerned by Ottawa’s plans to make it tougher to hire temporary foreign workers, fearing it could result in Nova Scotians losing jobs. 

Many employers are already concerned about staffing for the summer after the government suspended new hiring under the foreign worker program.

Ottawa is considering making it harder for employers in places with high unemployment to hire temporary foreign workers by adding two new rules. 

For one, employers may be required to pay foreign workers more than Canadians. Second, Ottawa may tie the number of temporary foreign workers a company is allowed to hire to the unemployment rate.

Luc Erjavec speaks for restaurant owners in Atlantic Canada.

“That will gut the program for our industry and really price them right out out of the market,” he said. “The reality is we have restaurants and other businesses in Nova Scotia that can’t find employees.”

The proposed changes affect more than the restaurant industry. Nova Scotia employers bring in temporary foreign workers as cleaners, cashiers and security guards. They filled 4,600 positions last December.  

Meanwhile Nova Scotia Labour Minister Kelly Regan has called Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, asking for a definition of some of the terms in the plan, including what makes a "high" unemployment area.
 
"He would not confirm that those are actual details of any plan that they are looking at,” said Regan. “So he asked us to go out and consult with our businesses here too get their thoughts around the temporary foreign workers.”

That consultation starts next week.