This past week, the Government announced significant changes to many classifications within the temporary foreign worker program (TFWP). Reaction to these changes has been diverse and includes comments that range from suggesting the changes do not go far enough to suggestions the changes in many cases are so significant that they amount to the phasing out of the program. As is often the case in areas of complex regulation, there is some misunderstanding in that some aspects of the program have been far more significantly changed than others. There are also unique considerations that apply in some classifications that do not apply in others. The limited space in this report does not make it possible to itemize all of the changes; however I will pass on a few examples based on questions that are commonly asked.
One of the larger questions that in some quarters is also a debate, is the question: are changes to the temporary foreign worker program required? I have certainly heard from some employers who have expressed views on the importance of the TFWP, however I have also met with unemployed workers and families of unemployed workers unable to secure a job. By the numbers the total use of the TFW program was just over 48,500 temporary foreign workers in 2002 and has grown every year since up to 2009 where the program peaked at just over 142,000 foreign workers and as of 2013 is close to 127,000. For a further breakdown of the 2013 numbers close to 17,000 were live in caregivers, close to 28,000 were in the seasonal agricultural worker program combined with a further 40,000 workers in other low skilled labour categories. In total low skilled TFW program use accounted for roughly 85,000 workers compared to just under 42,000 temporary foreign workers in the high skilled categories.
What changes are being proposed under the new regulations? Some categories, such as the live in caregiver program will remain unchanged however for other programs the former labour market opinion (LMO) will now be expanded into a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). The LMIA process requires an employer to submit how many Canadians applied for the job in question, in turn how many Canadians applicants were interviewed, and the reasons why those Canadians were not hired. In addition employers are also required to acknowledge new rules that prohibit Canadians from being laid-off or having hours reduced at a worksite employing temporary foreign workers. Other changes to the TFW program include a 10% cap limit on the number of TFW workers that an employer can use as a percentage of the workforce. Existing employers currently over this limit will be granted a transition period to adjust. Another change in the TFW program is that certain classifications of employment will be subject to local unemployment rates as part of the TFW application process. There are a number of conditions that apply however if the annual unemployment rate is over 6% in a specific region for a job classification the employer may be prevented from accessing the TFW program. For employers who are successful in receiving approval for using a temporary foreign worker in the low wage categories the duration of the permit will be one year shortened from the existing 2 year expiry date.
This report is only a brief summary of some of the many changes to the temporary foreign worker program. Many of the changes not mentioned in this report are specific and unique to various employers within our local economies. For the past week I have been hearing from many business owners over these changes. It should also be pointed out that the application fee for an LMIA is now set at $1,000 compared to $250 for the former LMO. These are significant increases for many business owners who do use the program although these new fees are established to recover the administrative costs of operating the temporary foreign worker program so that it is funded by those who use the TFW program and not subsidized by taxpayers or other businesses who do not use the program. I welcome your comments on this or any issue before the House of Commons. I can be reached at email@example.com or toll free at 1-800-665-8711.
This week the Government of Canada has accepted the recommendation from the Joint Review Panel regarding the Northern Gateway project. What this decision means is that the proponent must now demonstrate how (and if) it can meet and satisfy the 209 conditions that were identified from the National Energy Board JRP review process. Based on some of the feedback I have been hearing in response to this decision there are in some circumstances a misunderstanding on this process and what this decision really means.
I believe it is important to recognize that this week’s announcement does not mean shovels will soon hit the ground with construction getting underway to build the Northern Gateway project. Ultimately this week’s decision is another step in a very lengthy and detailed process that will now
see the proponent attempt to establish and identify how the 209 conditions will be met. Additional
consultations with Aboriginal communities will be required where many (but not all) have established concerns and in some cases outright opposition to this project. There are also additional conditions that have been put forward from the BC Provincial Government as well as litigation pending and in some cases already underway.
Aside from those challenges for greater context of some of the regulatory requirements that also remain in place from the various levels of Government the following acts apply: authorization under the Fisheries Act; Approval under the Indian Act to cross Reserves, authorization under the Federal Real Property and Federal Immovables Act, Authorization under the Canadian
Transportation Act, Approval and licensing issued under the Explosives Act; permits and authorizations under the Water Act, Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, Public Lands Act, Alberta Forests Act, Historical Resources Act, Occupational Health and Safety Act, Public Health Act, Alberta Weed Control Act, and the Public Highways Act.
Some of the British Columbia permits and authorizations include the Forest Act, Forest and Range Practices Act, Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act, Weed Control Act, Land Act, Agricultural Land Commission Act, Fisheries Act, Fisheries Protection Act, Water Act, Environmental Management Act, Wildlife Act, Heritage Conservation Act, Transportation Act, and Industrial Roads Act. In total between the Federal, BC and Alberta provincial Governments there are over 100 different regulatory obligations involved.
The above list is only a sample of some of the many acts involved that would require approval and authorization over and above the 209 conditions established by the Joint Review Panel. Assuming all of these conditions can be met and satisfied (including regulatory compliance), like most projects of this magnitude a right of way would need to be acquired that would potentially involve further public hearings and dealings with affected landowners. This is only brief overview highlighting some of the many conditions and challenges that remain for the proponent to satisfy.
Why not just reject Gateway outright? This is a question I receive often from opponents of the Gateway project. Ultimately as Canadians we need to recognize that currently bitumen is increasingly being shipped by rail; rail as we know is a less safe form of transporting oil compared to pipelines which are safer and more efficient. We also have to recognize that there is only so much rail capacity and if rail capacity is overtaken by oil, it will displace other important commodities and adversely affect other sectors of our Canadian economy, most likely agriculture. I think most would agree that is not acceptable.
We should also recognize that Canada has the third largest oil reserve in the world, but that is only if you consider 97% of that oil is in the oil sands. We have also learned that our economy and our future can be threatened if we do not diversify and expand our trading partners– to do that we need international market access and that in turn means infrastructure and access points. Gateway may or may not turn out not to be the solution but ultimately we need a transparent process that determines how we can safely and responsibly secure Canada’s energy future.
Where do I stand? I support having an independent scientific process that will handle the expected 650 Billion dollars of investment over the next ten years in developing Canada`s natural resources. While some would prefer that elected officials take a “just say no” approach to resource development in my view a balance can be achieved with responsible resource development which creates jobs and supports our local communities. To arbitrarily abandon development
without due process through political intervention will ultimately chase investment away; this not
only negates the well paying jobs, but no investment means no innovation in cleaner or more efficient methods. If we do not have new pipelines, we will have old ones, plus rail cars and truck transport carrying our product.
How we secure and maximize the best possible return for Canadians on our energy future is part of an important discussion on how we can build a stronger Canada.
I welcome your views on this or any subject before the House of Commons. I can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org toll free at 1-800-665-8711.
As I submit my MP reports on a weekly basis often the number of events that can occur within a seven day time frame are significant and difficult to fit into a single 550 word weekly update. At other times no words can describe some events that are truly shocking and disturbing in
magnitude. Such is the immense sense of loss Canadians share on the tragic death of three members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Moncton. On behalf of all citizens in Okanagan-Coquihalla our thoughts and prayers are with the families and members of the RCMP who have suffered so greatly from a senseless act of violence. I would also like to publicly recognize the service and sacrifice of all members of the RCMP who bravely protect our communities
while defending the law. This can be a demanding and dangerous job. The first RCMP officer killed in the line of duty happened in the early 1870’s. Since that time up to the present incident in Moncton two hundred and thirty four RCMP officers have lost their lives while on duty– including at least five in our riding of Okanagan-Coquihalla. Let us all pass on our condolences to the RCMP
family during this difficult time.
As the House of Commons has been sitting until midnight for the past weeks a large number of bills have been before the House. One of those to be introduced is Bill C-36 “Protection of Communities and Exploited Person Act”– also referred to as the prostitution bill. This bill is in
response to the Supreme Court of Canada striking down provision of Canada’s former laws in this area. Bill C-36 proposes a different framework on Canada’s prostitution laws in recognizing that many of those who sell sex do so for a variety of reasons that may include being forced or induced by others, to feed an addiction, poverty or other. Bill C-36 proposes to criminalize those who
purchase or otherwise profit from the sale of sexual services. In other words pimps, johns, drug dealers, human traffickers and smugglers would face increased fines and potential for imprisonment for engaging in acts of sexual exploitation. These fines and potential prison sentences would increase if offences involve children or occur in locations where children may be present.
To assist in facilitating these objectives it is proposed that the advertising of sexual services would also be banned and $20 million of new funding will be made available to help provide supports for those currently engaged in prostitution activities to help transition away from these activities. This is a summarized review of Bill C-36 and more detailed information can be obtained
from my office.
Each week I enjoy hearing from many constituents on a variety of different topics– while concerns are often unique at times there as some issues that will often unite citizens in support
or opposition. One issue that generally most citizens are supportive of is eliminating Government waste – with that in mind one program that has been successful in this regard is Industry Canada’s Computers for Schools program. Each year Government, and other private sector business partners frequently upgrade computer systems that at times may result existing computers becoming surplus. The Computers for Schools program takes these surplus computers,
refurbishes them, and distributes these computers to schools, libraries, not-profit learning organizations and aboriginal communities across Canada. This program over the next 4 years will distribute roughly 280,000 computers thanks in part to corporate partners such as CN Rail, Bell, Telus, and CIBC (to name a few) who join with Government in the donation of surplus computers and hardware. Last year close to 7,500 computers were distributed in British
Columbia and another shipment was announced last week with several hundred coming to schools in Okanagan Coquihalla. If you are interested in donating or are an eligible organization interested in receiving a computer forms can be obtained from the Computers for Schools
If you have a question, comment or concern on any matter before the House of Common I can be reached at email@example.com or 1-800-665-8711.
With the House of Commons now sitting until midnight for the
remainder of this session and with record temperatures being recorded in Ottawa, it is fair to say that the atmosphere has become heated and at times highly partisan on certain issues. Two of the most contentious issues this week included the ongoing investigation into the potential misuse of House of Commons funds by the NDP for partisan political purposes and more recently the appointment of a new Privacy Commissioner.
In both circumstances the Government and Liberals have been in agreement to further the investigation into NDP House resource spending and more recently the Liberals have supported the Government appointment of long time civil servant Daniel Therrien as Canada`s new Privacy Commissioner.
Our Prime Minister will be departing for Europe this week and along for the flight will be a delegation of Canadian veterans, including a veteran from Okanagan-Coquihalla to participate in ceremonies recognizing the 70th anniversary of the Normandy invasion. We should never
forget the thousands of Canadian soldiers who lost their lives in the Normandy campaign.
Also occurring this week will be the release of an important new report from the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. This report is the result of a comprehensive review of the New Veterans Charter and I can attest that local veterans have been supportive of a thorough review by the committee. Although I am not a member of this committee, I do make a point of covering for
absent members where possible as I believe that this is a important issue to many citizens in Okanagan-Coquihalla. Based on my particpation at these meetings and from comments from the other members, there is all party support recognizing the importance of this report in suggesting further improvements to the New Veterans Charter.
There will also be a number of Bills before the House this week including Bills C-27- "The Veterans Hiring Act", Bill C-35 "Justice for Animals in Service Act", Bill C-32 "The Victims Bill of Rights Act", Bill
C-18- "The Agricultural Growth Act", Bill C-20- "Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act" and Bill C-21- "The Red Tape Reduction Act". There will also be a number of private member's bills and motions coming before the House on a variety of different subjects including the presentation of petitions.
I would also like to take a moment to thank the many citizens who took the time to voice support for Bill C-17 “Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Act” that I referenced in last week’s MP report. From time to time there are bills that draw extremely wide support from a very diverse segment of citizens; without exception every citizen I heard from supports the ability of Government to have more options for issuing recalls against dangerous drugs and medical devices
that can potentially compromise patient safety as proposed in Bill C-17. I can also pass on that Bill C-17 has since received all party support to move on to Committee stage review.
If you have a comment, question or concern on any matter or Bill before the House of Commons, I can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or toll free at 1-800-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.
Central Okanagan – Similkameen – Nicola