The Harper government quickly closed the door in Quebec, who hoped relaxations in the federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).
The Quebec Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity, Sam Hamad, does not seem to have the same understanding that his federal counterpart, Pierre Poilievre, their latest exchange on this program, which is a bone of contention between the two levels of government.
Since the tightening of the program by Ottawa in 2014, many Quebec employers complain of being unable to recruit skilled labor in some areas. The government accused Ottawa Couillard repeatedly intransigent and closing evidence in this case.
On the sidelines of a joint announcement by the two ministers in Quebec City on an agreement to assist people with disabilities, Monday lunch, Hamad said he had spoken to his federal vis-à-vis and there was a change in his attitude.
“The minister (Pierre) Poilievre is very open, said Mr. Hamad news briefing. He gave instructions to his officials. There has been a change, an opening, I’m guessing. ”
Hamad said his colleague the Minister of Immigration, Kathleen Weil, Mr. Poilievre would meet Tuesday and hoped they would continue to “discuss and understand (…) to account particularities of Quebec. ”
He said he gave it a chance, because “the will is there to discuss it.” But shortly thereafter, Mr. Poilievre, who is the Minister of Employment and Social Development, has contradicted another scrum. He clearly stated that no change was expected in the program. There were 140,000 recipients of employment insurance in Quebec in 2013 and requires that companies hire them before recruiting temporary foreign workers, he insisted.
“Quebecers are totally agree with our approach. (…) Employers seek 8000 temporary foreign workers. I tell them, Quebecers agree first. ”
When a reporter asked if the program would remain as it is, Mr. Poilievre said, “Yes, that’s it.”
He reiterated that the objective of the reform program implemented by the Harper government was to prioritize jobs for Quebecers in Quebec.
By late afternoon, a Mr. Hamad spokesman however said the two men had spoke again and this time Mr. Poilievre had again been open for Tuesday’s meeting with Ms. Weil.
In June 2014, federal authorities announced an overhaul of the temporary foreign worker program because of abuses found in some cases of Canadian workers were replaced by nationals coming to work for a fixed period at a low wage.
Ottawa had decided to require employers to prove that they have tried to hire a Canadian first before using the TFW program, which does not include the agriculture sector. It also prohibited the sectors of hospitality, retail and catering to use the program in areas where the unemployment rate is above 6 percent.
The federal government has implemented its reform April 30, 2015, despite the protests of Couillard government.
Among the complaints, Quebec believes that the regions where the unemployment rate is below six percent will be penalized. The Quebec government also believes that the reduction in the duration of work permits granted to certain workers, which increased from four to two years, will make it difficult for companies facing labor shortages, including sectors such food processing, information technology and video games.
No fewer than 19,000 foreign workers in Quebec would be through the program.
In addition, Messrs. Hamad said Monday Poilievre and the renewal of a four-year agreement to help the disabled. Each Government will invest $ 46 million per year until 2018 for the employability of people with disabilities, and to subsidize companies that employ them.