Liberals ease hiring rules for foreign workers amid labor crisis | EducationLiberals ease hiring rules for foreign workers amid labor crisis | Education

Liberals ease hiring rules for foreign workers amid labor crisis | Education
Liberals ease hiring rules for foreign workers amid labor crisis | Education

Liberals relax hiring restrictions for foreign workers in the midst of a labour crisis

Days before the Liberals released its latest spending plan, the federal government has eased rules for temporary foreign workers in some sectors of the economy that are in dire need of workers.

The changes announced on Monday would allow employers to hire foreign workers for low-wage jobs and in areas where unemployment rates are high.

High-wage, highly skilled workers will also be able to gain employability for three years instead of two, which the government says will also give them an easier path to permanent residency.

Employment Minister Carla Qualtro said the changes provide short-term respite for companies struggling to fill vacancies, some including those with a dwindling pool of available workers.

She also said the changes are part of an ongoing effort to reform the foreign-worker program without putting pressure on wages.

Liberals are under pressure to address the quality of work in the job market, which has far exceeded the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that occurred two years ago.

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While Quattro would not say what might happen in the budget, he said he expects the document to address future labor market needs and current issues, including a record-high number of job vacancies.

"The Minister of Finance (Christia Freeland) is well aware of the state of labor shortage in our country," Quattro said in an interview.  Make sure we continue to prosper and overcome our labor shortage."

The country lost 3 million jobs at the start of the pandemic in March and April 2020, but has since recovered what was lost and then some: by February, the country had 1.9 percent, or 369,100 jobs at pre-pandemic levels  was above.  Registered in February 2020.

Canadian Labor Congress President B Bruske said the issue was no longer the number of jobs in the country, but the quality of jobs for employed people and those still in search. 

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He said the budget should have a plan to address the uncertainty of work as well as the issues of wages and benefits.

"If you still want to piece together two or three different challenging part-time jobs, and you can't rely on week-to-week whether or not you'll have full-time hours, that's still a big problem.  in our society,” Bruske said.

Economist Jim Stanford, director of the Center for Future Work, said the government can address those concerns by ensuring employers pay in Canada pension plans for their gig workers, and ensure they can receive workers employment insurance benefits.  .

Stanford said such moves would rein in a rising demand model for labor that is deteriorating the quality of work. 

He said liberals should invest the expected financial gains for the federal treasury from the economic rebound rather than a reduction in spending.

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“It is not a question of where now the government has to shut everything down and go back to basics.  Far from it,” Stanford said.

"The government continues to have, I think, both the resources and the responsibility to play a very active role in the labor market now, with a greater focus on quality rather than quantity."

Kylie Tissen, an economist at Unifor, said Quattro is still consulting on the future of the EI system with plans expected this fall, but the government may send some signals on Thursday.

She said one option would be to raise benefit rates and put in place a permanent pandemic-era policy to set a single standard for hours worked to qualify for EI, rather than across different regional limits.

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Tissen said the government could further raise the federal minimum wage to improve the quality of jobs, adding evidence that raising the pay floor does not reduce the number of job opportunities. 

"We don't have to go back to what we had before. We can do something better," she said.

"We saw the essential nature of very low-paid work in our country (in the pandemic) and workers deserve more than what they were getting."

Sources: Jordan Press, The Canadian Press, Global News, Direct News 99