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OTTAWA - Hiring foreigners will now come at a cost to employers because of reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, though critics say the changes will do nothing to curb abuse of the program.
Employers will now pay a $275 fee for each labour market opinion (LMO) - an application from an employer to hire from abroad. Those fees were previously covered by taxpayers.
Employers are also now required to advertise openings on government websites for four, rather than two weeks, before applying to fill the position with a foreign worker.
Employment Development Minister Jason Kenney said the reforms strengthen the integrity of the program.
"These improvements help ensure the TFW program is only used as intended - to fill acute skills shortages on a temporary basis."
Yet another change requires employers to only advertise jobs requiring English and French language skills.
Some of these reforms were announced in April, when the government and the program came under fire when media reported Canadian banks were laying off Canadian employees and replacing them with temporary foreign workers.
Especially offensive to Canadians was a clause that allowed employers to pay foreigners up to 15% less than their Canadian equivalents - essentially an incentive to hire foreigners.
The government says that loophole has been closed and employers are required to pay temporary foreign workers at "the prevailing wage."
Immigration lawyer Julie Taub says the reforms improve nothing, and asked why, given high unemployment among Canadian youth and aboriginals in particular, the program is used at all.
"Foreign workers should only be brought in as a last resort," she said. "The government shouldn't be encouraging employers to hire Canadian first - they should tell them they have to."
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