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Some news to swallow on the TFW programme suspension

Wednesday, May 21, 2014    

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Dear Mr Brown:

I am currently working in a restaurant at a hotel on a work permit in Canada. I was advised that the Temporary Foreign Work (TFW) programme has been suspended. However, my employer told me not to worry as I am not affected. I am not sure what to do. I need your advice.

-- HA

Dear HA:

The federal government of Canada has officially suspended the TFW programme for businesses in the fast-food restaurant industry due to abuses of the system and fraud by businesses. The moratorium will remain in effect until the completion of an ongoing review of the TFW programme.

As you may know, a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) states whether the issuance of a work permit to a foreign worker will have a neutral or positive effect on Canada's economy. An LMO is necessary for most work permits to be issued. The TFW programme is designed to be a system of last and limited resort, to be accessed by employers facing genuine labour shortages, and only after it is determined that Canadians are not available to fill the job. The government ensures that Canadians have first access to available jobs.

Abuse of the system

Some abuses of the TFW programme that were revealed include:

* McDonald's franchises in British Columbia had their Labour Market Opinions (LMOs) revoked after allegations that they were exploiting the workers hired under the programme, such as the denial of overtime pay.

* There were other claims that restaurants had been firing Canadian staff in favour of hiring more temporary foreign workers.

* Many restaurants were hiring abroad instead of within Canada.

Moratorium

All establishments whose primary purpose is to serve food and drink are covered by the moratorium. This includes all restaurants, bars, food preparation operations and caterers. Also, the moratorium covers all food service staff, including servers, bartenders, kitchen staff, cleaners, security personnel, as well as management and supervisor roles.

As it relates to your situation, hotels that operate food service establishments are not affected by the moratorium. However, food service establishment operated by a third party on leased premises inside a hotel is affected.

Although actively employed temporary foreign workers will not be immediately affected by the suspension, the moratorium means that new or pending temporary foreign worker applications will not be processed from restaurant owners and that any unfilled positions tied to previous approvals will also be suspended. Additionally, work permit extensions in connection with impacted Labour Market Opinions are also suspended because a valid LMO is required in order to issue a work permit.

Temporary Foreign Work Programmes currently in Canada on a valid work permit in connection with a positive LMO in the Food Services Sector should seek guidance regarding options prior to the expiry of work permits. In some circumstances, individuals who apply for a work permit extension prior to the expiry of their present work permit may have implied status and may be able to remain in Canada until a decision is made on their work permit extension application.

Affected jobs

The positions affected by the moratorium include:

* 6641 food counter attendants, kitchen helpers and related occupations

* 0631 restaurant and food service managers

* 6212 food service supervisors

* 6453 food and beverage servers

* 6611 cashiers

* 6241 chefs

* 6242 cooks

* 6252 cakers

* 0611 sales, marketing and advertising managers

* 0621 retail trade managers

* 0632 accommodation service managers

* 0651 other services managers

* 6211 retail trade supervisors

* 6213 executive housekeepers

* 6214 dry cleaning and laundry supervisors

* 6215 cleaning supervisors

* 6216 other service supervisors

* 6221 technical sales specialists -- wholesale trade

* 6251 butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers -- retail and wholesale

* 6411 sales representatives -- wholesale trade (non-technical)

* 6421 retail salespersons and sales clerks

* 6451 Maîtres d'hôtel and hosts/hostesses

* 6452 bartenders

* 6484 other personal service occupations

* 6622 grocery clerks and store shelf stockers

* 6623 other elemental sales occupations

* 6651 security guards and related occupations

* 6661 light duty cleaners

* 6662 specialised cleaners

* 6663 janitors, caretakers and building superintendents

* 6681 dry cleaning and laundry occupations

* 6682 ironing, pressing and finishing occupations

* 6683 other elemental service occupations

For further information visit jamaica2canada.com.

Antonn Brown, BA, (Hons), LLB, MSc, RCIC is an immigration counsel, education agent and managing director of Jamaica2canada.com -- a Canadian immigration and education firm in Kingston. Send questions/comments to jamaica2canada@gmail.

com.

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