Inside Politics

Tories reject NDP query on temporary workers program

The government is refusing to release detailed information on the controversial Temporary Foreign Workers program on the grounds that doing so "would produce a prohibitively large document."

Last month, New Democrat MP Jinny Sims filed a written query for a full breakdown of all TFW-related Labour Market Opinions issued by the department since 2000, including the total number of applications submitted, approved and denied broken down by year, region and province.

She also wanted to know the average length of time taken to reach a decision, and the median length of time that employers reported advertising for Canadian workers before applying for an LMO.

Yesterday, Employment Minister Jason Kenney's parliamentary secretary Scott Armstrong responded to the request by informing the House that "the nature of this request requires significant data manipulation and would produce a prohibitively large document."

As a result, he concluded, "Employment and Social Development Canada is unable to answer this question in the time allotted."

Unlike the access to information system, there's no avenue of appeal for MPs left unsatisfied by responses to written questions. That hasn't stopped some opposition members from attempting to convince House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer to intervene in the process, however.

Perhaps not surprisingly , Scheer has thus far managed to resisted those entreaties on the grounds that it's not up to him to judge the quality of a particular reply.

The full question -- and answer -- as printed in Hansard:

Question No. 321-- Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims:
With regard to Labour Market Opinions (LMO) performed by Employment and Social Development Canada and previously by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada for the purposes of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, for the period from 2000 to the present: (a) what is the total number of applications, broken down by (i) year, (ii) region or province, (iii) industrial classification according to the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), (iv) program stream; (b) what is the number of applications approved, broken down by (i) year, (ii) region or province, (iii) industrial classification according to the NAICS, (iv) program stream; (c) what is the number of applications denied, broken down by (i) year, (ii) region or province, (iii) industrial classification according to the NAICS, (iv) program stream; (d) what is the average length of time between the receipt of an application and the issuance of a decision, broken down by (i) year, (ii) region or province, (iii) industrial classification according to the NAICS, (iv) program stream; (e) for each year, what was the median length of time that employers reported advertising for Canadian workers before applying for a LMO; (f) how many staff were assigned to process LMO applications in each year; (g) how many staff were assigned to monitor for compliance with LMO in each year; (h) how many staff were assigned to conduct investigations of apparent non-compliance in each year; and (i) how many employers have been sanctioned for cases of non-compliance in each year?

Mr. Scott Armstrong (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment and Social Development, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, the nature of this request requires significant data manipulation and would produce a prohibitively large document. As a result, Employment and Social Development Canada is unable to answer this question in the time allotted.

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