Suggested ‘market mechanisms’ not feasible in Nova Scotia

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Op-ed – Jordi Morgan

Last Friday the federal government announced massive changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

Jordi Morgan is vice-president Atlantic of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. CFIB represents 11,000 members in Atlantic Canada. You can contact him at Jordi.morgan@cfib.ca follow on Twitter @CFIBAtlantic or see more at www.cfib.ca

Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) members strongly support efforts to penalize or fine any firm that is abusing the program or mistreating any employee.  These changes however convict all employers and prevent those who have followed the rules from even attempting to use a valuable tool to solve urgent and serious labour shortages.

 

Employment Minister Jason Kenney singled out the restaurant, hotel and retail sector, effectively barring them from even applying to the TFW program. People in Colchester County should be deeply concerned about the impact this will have in the region.

 

Minister Kenney made these changes seemingly oblivious to the reality in Atlantic Canada. During his announcement the Minister noted an inability to comprehend why employers can’t find Canadian workers in areas of high unemployment. For starters, Nova Scotia’s population is aging and declining and young people are moving in droves to his home province of Alberta.

 

He says employers should use “market mechanisms” such as higher wages to attract new workers. The employers he is referring to are already operating on razor thin margins and simply paying people higher wages is not an option. They may be able to pony up $25 an hour in Fort McMurray to serve coffee, in Bible Hill ... not so much.

 

The solution he offered on CTV’s Question Period was if you can’t find enough Canadian workers, just don’t start the business. The logical extension of this, if you are struggling to find employees at a fish processing plant in Pictou, shut it down. As an economic growth strategy, this seems a little counter-intuitive.

 

Kenney also noted he wants to return the TFWP to its original objective to be the “last, limited and temporary resort for employers who absolutely cannot find qualified Canadians to take jobs at the Canadian wage rate.” So now, to help those who are at the end of their rope finding workers, the program is made impossibly bureaucratic, financially out of reach or totally inaccessible to those who need it most.   

Entrepreneurs in Central Nova Scotia want to contribute to their communities, create employment and build a business here, all-the-while competing with the oil patch and/or the federal EI system for workers. Atlantic Canada is in need of sound productivity, immigration and employment policy, not punitive measures designed to solve problems in tight labour markets in Alberta.

 

Jordi Morgan is vice-president Atlantic of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. CFIB represents 11,000 members in Atlantic Canada. You can contact him at Jordi.morgan@cfib.ca follow on Twitter @CFIBAtlantic or see more at www.cfib.ca

 

 

Organizations: Canadian Federation of Independent Business

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Atlantic Canada, Alberta Colchester County Fort McMurray Bible Hill Pictou Central Nova Scotia

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