TFW program needs overhaul, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater
CFIB says the system can be reformed to provide badly needed economic service, not be open for abuse
Tonight's first order of business, a proposal to change a controversial visa program could stir the pot. The body that speaks for small business says the temporary foreign worker program is needed by some of its members — but with a tweak or two, can be a way for new Canadians to make a home here, even those with only entry-level skills.
Those self-selected self-starters that have been the backbone of this nation for generations.
— Amanda Lang
Today's call for reform of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program comes from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
CFIB says its survey of small and medium-sized businesses found a "legitimate need" for foreign workers in Canada. Fifty-one per cent of business owners cite a lack of skilled labour as a "high priority issue," especially in fast-growing economies like Alberta and Saskatchewan.
The group also says Temporary Foreign Workers are less common than we might think. Only 10 per cent of businesses successfully used that program to hire a foreign worker. The majority of respondents said it was more expensive to use a foreign worker than a Canadian.
CFIB proposes a new model for foreign workers, which it's calling the "Introduction to Canada Visa." That would be a two-year working visa for a sector or region with high demand for labour, with a path to permanent residency. Employers would have to pay foreign workers the same wages as their Canadian employees, and would have to employ one Canadian for each foreign worker.
CFIB's president Dan Kelly discussed the issue with Amanda Lang on Monday's episode of The Exchange.