There are important skills shortages in Canada. Government knows it, business feels it. Turning to skilled employees from outside of Canada has been an important part of the solution for Canadian businesses. An employer’s first job is to succeed in business. Without business success, there are no jobs and wages, no economic growth, no new tax revenue for governments. Canada’s labour markets require foreign workers—for the sake of Canadian businesses and their employees.
Everything in last week’s announcement on the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program suggests the government wants this program to be as restrictive as possible. But, we should remember the program was invented to ensure Canadian businesses had access to the workers they need. This still is the most important priority.
This is a case when the government is taking action without a clear idea of what will result. A lack of data is leading to a lack of analysis. Canada is guessing about a critical issue of competitiveness.
Everyone is aware of the political pressure the government is under to crack down on the abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, but what’s good politics may not be good policy. Instead of penalizing all businesses, the government should improve its review process and its enforcement of the program’s rules. By respecting the legitimate needs of Canadian business, the government will also serve Canadian workers. This needs to be addressed at today’s Skills Summit.