CCA Concerned Changes to Temporary Foreign Worker Program Will Harm the Construction Sector

The Canadian Construction Association (CCA) is very concerned that the changes to the Labour Market Opinion (LMO) and Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) programs announced yesterday will reduce the sector's ability and capacity to meet the increased demand for construction services across Canada.

Ottawa, Canada, May 02, 2013 --( “From a construction industry perspective, the TFW program is a stop-gap measure, which allows industry to keep pace with rising demand across Canada for construction services," said Michael Atkinson, president of the Canadian Construction Association. “The cost of recruiting and employing temporary foreign workers in the construction sector makes this an option of last resort, but a necessary tool for the industry in terms of meeting industry demands."

Over the past 10 years, employment in Canada’s construction sector has grown by more than 400,000 Canadians. According to independent estimates, the construction industry will need to recruit 250,000 new workers by 2021 to keep pace with retirements and high demand for construction services. Often industry employers in areas of high demand will conduct national recruitment efforts to meet their labour market needs, and yet will still see chronic labour shortages despite these efforts.

“It takes upwards of four years for an individual to complete their training in most construction sector skilled trades,” explained Atkinson. “The TFW program has provided the construction industry with the support it requires to keep pace with economic growth while domestic training efforts catch up to industry demand. Simply asking employers to spend more time looking for non-existent workers in Canada before approving their use of TFWs is not only short-sighted, but could have disastrous economic consequences.”

From an industry perspective, the suspension of the Accelerated LMO is extremely disappointing. The program was designed with adequate safeguards limiting program access to trusted employers only with bonafide labour recruitment challenges. While CCA members are not opposed to LMO cost-recovery fees or providing government officials with a plan to transition to a domestic workforce, additional red tape must be accompanied by reasonable service level standards and timely decision-making. In this regard, CCA sincerely hopes that Members of Parliament in their review of the proposed fees will attach appropriate service level safeguards to protect the business community from further processing delays.
Canadian Construction Association
Kirsi O'Connor
613-236-9455 ext. 417