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New federal rules on temporary workers worry employers

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Mar23,2024

New federal rules on temporary workers worry employers

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Workers at a seafood processing plant.

Radio-Canada

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Prince Edwardian employers fear to have to go out of their way to find workers if the federal government establishes a cap on the number of temporary foreign workers.

Federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller announced Thursday that his government plans to reduce the proportion of temporary residents in the Canadian population over the next three years.

In 2023, 6.2% of the Canadian population was made up of temporary residents. By 2027, Ottawa wants to reduce this proportion to 5%.

But it's no secret that many employers – from seafood processing plant operators to restaurateurs – in Prince Edward Island rely on temporary foreign workers like source of labor.

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David Groom relies heavily on foreign labor at his businesses, the Quality Inn and Brothers 2 Restaurant, in Summerside.

This is particularly the case of the owner of the Quality Inn and the Brothers 2 restaurant in Summerside, David Groom. He says there simply aren't enough people on Prince Edward Island who want to work in housekeeping or as cooks in his businesses.

We have been using temporary foreign workers since 2018 because we cannot find a local workforce who wants to do this type of work. If that workforce disappears, it's going to be very difficult for the entire industry, he says.

On Thursday, the federal Minister of Employment and Workforce Development, Randy Boissonnault, indicated that the government would begin to reduce the number of temporary foreign workers who can work in certain sectors of the economy.

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In April 2022, Ottawa adopted temporary measures to allow employers, particularly in the accommodation and food services sectors, to hire up to 30% of their workforce through the temporary foreign worker program in low-wage positions.

However, Minister Boissonnault indicated that the ceiling will now be set at 20% for most sectors of the economy. From now on, federal requirements to demonstrate that employers have been unable to find local labor will be stricter.

According to According to the PEI Seafood Processors Association, 35 to 40% of workers in the province's processing plants are temporary foreign workers.

The association's executive director, Bob Creed, says it's unclear whether the new federal rules have an impact on the industry.

Frankly, without temporary foreign workers, it will be difficult to continue seafood processing in Prince Edward Island.

According to Mr. Creed, the province's rural economy depends on it, as does the aquaculture sector.

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my natasha@thetimeshub.in 1-800-268-7116

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