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Canadian manufacturers prefer hiring Canadians first, but foreign workers critical to bridging gaps

Published by Derek Lothian on April 29, 2013

Manufacturers across the country continue to rely primarily on Canadian talent to meet changing labour demands, however temporary foreign workers (TFW) remain a vital part of our national employment and economic growth strategies, according to Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) – Canada's largest trade and industry association.

Half of all manufacturers are currently experiencing labour or skills shortages, with those numbers expected to rise dramatically in every occupational segment over the next five years. More than one in three companies say these challenges are already constraining business growth.

"The federal TFW program is used by manufacturers most times because they have no other option, often operating in regions where Canadians won't move and there are no local workers with the necessary skill requirements," explains CME President & CEO Jayson Myers. "Let's be clear: Canadian industry wants to hire Canadians first – not only to be socially responsible, but because hiring foreign workers is much more expensive and a much more complicated process."

With the Government of Canada now proposing changes to the TFW system, Myers maintains it is important that reforms establish mechanisms to allow for maximized speed and flexibility in connecting companies with the workers they need, while providing pathways to citizenship for current TFWs and ensuring transparency in the new framework.

"TFWs are used because current government programs to supply labour are inadequate, including both the education and immigration systems," says Myers. "Any transition from the model we have now must be done to improve Canada's global competitiveness, and avoid penalizing the companies that are following the rules, creating jobs, and driving our economy."

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