Temporary Foreign Worker Program
The HAC continues to underline the fact that there is both a skilled and semi-skilled employment crisis in Canada. Furthermore we are addressing the need for evidence of these shortages. Economist Don Drummond, as well as a TD Economics Report issued in late October, have both called for concrete evidence to support this crisis.
According to the Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association's 2013 Labour Market Survey conducted by Price Waterhouse Coopers, our industry continues to rely on foreign workers in front line occupations including Front Desk Agents, Housekeepers, Food and Beverage Servers and Kitchen Helpers. Foreign workers are an important source of labour. The survey also found that 28% of respondents currently employ foreign workers or have hired foreign workers in the past two years and 44% plan to hire foreign workers in the near future. Respondents currently employ 2,533 temporary foreign workers or one in five of every full time employee. Since 2011 the total number of foreign workers has increased by 25%.
The results of the survey dispel two common myths, namely that minimum wage jobs are the norm in the hospitality industry and secondly that foreign workers are consistently paid less than their Canadian equivalents. Furthermore these wages, which are well above minimum wage, do not include gratuities, benefits or bonuses.
In addition to recognizing that the crisis exists, the HAC is asking the Government of Canada to take immediate action to improve the system. Employees need to be provided with clearer instructions and the application process needs to be streamlined. In addition, there must be a reduction in the time it takes to process applications and increase the duration for positive Labour Market Opinions and work permits. The HAC suggests that the government should host international missions to promote jobs in Canada and hold information sessions to explain the process of hiring foreign workers.
The government is becoming more and more sensitized to this employment crisis especially as it relates to semi-skilled and not just skilled positions. The HAC has brought our message forward to the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development, the Honourable Chris Alexander, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of Small Business and Tourism, the federal Tourism Caucus as well as opposition critics with responsibility in this area. In addition our position has been brought forward to the Deputy Minister of Industry to ensure that this employment crisis comes under the lens of all government departments within the Federal Tourism Strategy. As well the HAC is working in concert with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce who has the support of all its offices across Canada.
The HAC will keep you posted and in the interim if you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Anthony P. Pollard
Re-printed with permission from the Hotel Association of Canada