(Apr. 4/16) – In February, the Ministry of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour quietly lifted the temporary foreign worker (TFW) cap for some seasonal employers of low-wage workers. The exemption applies to employers in seasonal industries hiring TFWs in low-wage seasonal positions that are no more than 180 calendar days in length. This exemption can be used only one time per work location, for applications received between Feb. 19, 2016 and Dec. 31, 2016. Without this change the cap would have fallen to 10% of employees in July 2016, reduced from the current cap of 20%.

Fish processors were the only sector notified of the change, which was introduced as an interim measure until a full review of the TFW program can take place.

Unfortunately, this won’t change much for you, since restaurants are still restricted from applying for TFWs in areas of high unemployment. Even in areas of low unemployment, it remains cost-prohibitive to hire TFWs for most short-term seasonal positions, and the length of time required to process applications (approximately 3 months) also makes this exemption difficult to use.

Restaurants Canada wrote the minister to express our concern that we weren’t consulted or notified about the change in policy, and to request a meeting to discuss reforms to the TFW program. Our letter to the minister is here, and the article in which we are quoted with our concerns is here.

Note: seasonal is defined as when both the industry and the occupation experience significant fluctuations in labour demand between “peak” and “off-peak” periods, usually occurring on or around the same dates every year.

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