This segment of the labour force is helping the country meet urgent needs amid the crisis
Temporary foreign workers in Canada – who were displaced from their jobs in the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic – can immediately start working for a new employer even while their work permit is being processed.
The federal government has implemented a temporary new policy that aims to redeploy laid-off foreign workers into critical sectors currently facing a labour shortage.
The program expedites the time it takes for foreign workers – particularly those who held an employer-specific permit when they were retrenched – to join a new company by cutting down the processing and transition period from 10 weeks to 10 days or less.
Temporary foreign workers are essential to Canada’s COVID-19 response, according to Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough.
“They are helping us meet urgent labour needs, to ensure our food security and deliver essential goods and services,” she said.
The ministry believes a looming labour gap in the agriculture, food processing and healthcare sectors could undermine Canada’s food security and healthcare services.
“While there will always be jobs for Canadians who choose to work in these sectors,” Qualtrough said, “these changes help support our economy by ensuring that temporary foreign workers already here can contribute during these extraordinary times.”
The pandemic has, however, forced retrenched foreign workers to return to their home country. Others have been left stranded because of the travel restrictions imposed by other countries.
The federal government is hopeful the new policy will enable Canadian businesses to “recruit the workers they need and help unemployed workers contribute to the Canadian economy during this pandemic,” said Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino.
“Immigrants, temporary foreign workers and international students are making considerable contributions to Canada’s response to the unprecedented challenge that COVID-19 poses,” he said.
“We know and value their efforts and sacrifices to keep Canadians healthy and ensure the delivery of critical goods and services.”