June 23, 2016 / 9:02 PM / 4 years ago

Canada dilutes plan to limit low-wage temporary foreign workers

Canada's Employment Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada, March 21, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada’s Liberal government on Thursday watered down measures to limit the number of low-wage temporary foreign workers firms can hire after complaints the restrictions would cause major labor shortages.

Under rules introduced by the previous Conservative administration, the number of low-skilled foreign workers a firm could employ would have dropped to 10 percent on July 1 from 20 percent currently.

Employment Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk said she was freezing the limit at 20 percent for employers who had hired workers before June 20, 2014. Those accessing the system after that date are subject to a 10 percent cap.

Mihychuk, who has vowed to revamp the system, told Reuters in April she might push back the July 1 start date, saying it was too ambitious.

Farmers and meat processors complained the 10 percent limit would result in labor shortages while unions say the curbs are needed to prevent firms from filling jobs that could otherwise be taken by Canadians.

The Liberals loosened foreign-worker restrictions in March for seafood plants. Mihychuk said at the time she was not convinced other sectors needed the same help.

Reporting by David Ljunggren, editing by G Crosse

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