Canadian hotels, restaurants and retail stores will not be able to hire temporary foreign workers for low-wage and low-skill jobs in areas with high unemployment, the Canadian government said Friday.
As part of an overhaul of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP), Canadian employers with 10 or more employees will be limited to having 30 percent of their workforce consisting of low-wage temporary foreign workers - a cap that will be reduced to 10 percent two years from now, and which could be further lowered in the future.
Employers will also have to re-apply every year for approval to hire these workers as opposed to every two years.
"Canadians must be first in line for available jobs," Canadian Employment Minister Jason Kenney told a news conference. He said the reforms restore the TFWP to its original purpose "as a last and limited resource for employers where there are no qualified Canadians to fill available jobs."
He said employers wanting to hire temporary foreign workers would also have to inform the government how many Canadians applied and were interviewed for a position, and why they were not hired.
Companies that use the program will now have to pay 1,000 Canadian dollars - or a 725-dollar increase - for every temporary foreign worker position requested.
One in four employers using temporary foreign workers will also face annual inspections, resulting from tips, employers being deemed high-risk and random audits, according to Employment and Social Development Canada that oversees the TFWP.
Serious allegations of abuse of the program within the food-services sector, including three McDonald's franchises, led to Ottawa imposing a moratorium on that industry's access to the TFWP in April. On Friday, that suspension was lifted.
Still, employers found to have broken the rules will face fines of up to 100,000 Canadian dollars, starting this fall, and have their names and the amount of the fine publicly disclosed on an online blacklist.
As part of the reforms unveiled Friday, international mobility programs for highly skilled and highly paid foreign workers will no longer fall under the TFWP and be subject to the new rules.
According to the Canadian government, 83,740 temporary foreign workers entered Canada last year - a number that represented 0.44 percent of the total Canadian labor force.