Canada curbs fast-food temporary foreign workers

Fri Jun 20, 2014 4:29pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - McDonald's Corp (MCD.N: Quote) restaurants and other companies will face tough restrictions on their ability to bring in temporary foreign workers under reforms announced on Friday to address a public outcry over perceived abuses of the system.

Employment Minister Jason Kenney introduced the changes after having temporarily frozen the ability of restaurants to bring in any temporary foreign workers after stories of foreign workers displacing Canadians at some McDonald's outlets.

The program had been designed to help the booming resource industry but ended up mushrooming in the low-skilled fast-food industry, raising questions as to whether this was good for the economy and causing backlash when Canadians could not find work.

"Sometimes they don't bother calling young Canadians who drop off their resumes, and that really ticks me off," Kenney said of employers using the program.

Here are highlights of the changes he announced:

- Low-wage temporary foreign workers will be able to represent no more than 10 percent of the work force of companies with 10 or more employees, as of mid-2016. As a transition, employers will be frozen at 30 percent or current levels, whichever is less, and then 20 percent in mid-2015.

- In areas with unemployment of 6 percent or more, temporary foreign workers will not be allowed to fill the lowest-wage, entry-level workers.

- The government fee per worker will rise to C$1,000 ($930) from C$275, for required "labor-market impact assessments," which will now only be valid for one year instead of two.   Continued...

Canada's Employment Minister Jason Kenney is reflected on a screen during a news conference with Immigration Minister Chris Alexander in Ottawa June 20, 2014. REUTERS/Chris Wattie