Regina, Saskatchewan. August 12, 2008 - The Honourable Monte Solberg, Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, and the Honourable Rob Norris, Saskatchewan Minister of Advanced Education, Employment and Labour, today an nnounced that Canada's Government and the Government of Saskatchewan are working together on several fronts to make improvements to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
"Our government is helping employers deal with skilled labour shortages a nd making sure that Canadian consumers continue to have access to the goods and services they need with the help of temporary foreign workers," said Minister Solberg.
"Our work with the Government of Saskatchewan will ensure that foreign workers c ontinue to enjoy the same rights and protections as Canadian workers."
"Saskatchewan has one of the nation's fastest growing economies right now. To help ensure we have the workforce necessary to build on that momentum, we're taking an agg ressive approach to immigration," said Minister Norris.
"The changes we are announcing today will help to address skills shortages in the hospitality sector and to ensure the protection of temporary foreign workers, who play such a vital role in th is and other industries. We're pleased to work with the federal government and our industry partners on meeting Saskatchewan's growing labour market needs."
Improvements to the federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program include strengthening p rotections for temporary foreign workers and improving outreach and communications with both employers and temporary foreign workers.
"I am pleased that both governments are developing new and improved publications in several different languag es, some of which are already available at local Service Canada Centres and online. We are also working together on outreach activities to ensure that not only workers know their rights but also that employers know their responsibilities when hiring a for eign worker in Saskatchewan and across Canada," concluded Minister Solberg.
The federal and provincial governments will support the protection of temporary foreign workers by providing them with information on labour standards, occupational h ealth and safety and work-related rights and responsibilities. Outreach activities will also be directed at employers to help ensure they understand their responsibilities and to build understanding around the process for hiring temporary foreign workers.
Saskatchewan is the fourth province to join the federal government's efforts to facilitate information sharing on these important labour issues. The Government has already entered into similar negotiations with Manitoba, British Columbia and Al berta.
The Government of Saskatchewan has initiated a project under the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) to enable temporary foreign workers in the hospitality sector to apply for nomination. The project will expand eligibility beyon d professional occupations and skilled trades to include hotel housekeeping staff and food and beverage servers working in Saskatchewan on temporary work permits.
For details on the federal and provincial initiatives to improve the Temporary Forei gn Worker Program, as well as provincial changes to the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program, see attached backgrounders.
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This news release is available in alternative formats upon request.
For furt her information (media only):
Minister Solberg's Office
Media Relations Office
Human Resources and Social Development Canada
Mark eting Communications Manager
Temporary Foreign Worker Program Information Material for Workers and Employers
The Governments of Canada and Saskatchewan are working together to protect the rights of temporary foreign workers and ensure employers are aware of their responsibilities.
Human Resources and Social Development Canada has published a series of fact sheets and brochures. The publications for workers emphasize the labour and employment rights workers are entitled to in Canada and how they can get additional information or help if they need assistance. The publications for employers emphasize the various components of the Temp orary Foreign Worker Program and process for hiring foreign workers. Publications for workers are available in several languages depending on the publication, in Spanish, Hindi, Mandarin, Tagalog and Thai.
Publications are distributed to workers when they apply for their SIN cards through Service Canada Centres across Canada, through Ports of Entry and through immigration posts abroad. They are also distributed when Temporary Foreign Worker Program officials meet with employers and industry leade rs across Canada to deliver information sessions about hiring foreign workers to meet human resources needs. All material is posted on HRSDC's website at www.hrsd-rhdsc.gc.ca
Information resources outlining Saskatchewan's Occupational Health and Safety Regulations and Labour Standards, including the Ready for Work brochure, Rights and Responsibilities: A Guide to Labour Standards in Saskatchewan, and Labour Standards for the Restaurant and Food Industry, are available on Advanced Education, Employment and Labour's website.
Advanced Education, Employment and Labour is undertaking a project to improve accessibility of information on labour standards, occupational health and safety and work-related rights and responsibilities for new immigrants and foreign temporary workers. Plans include translation of existing materials; development of new materials directed at immigrants and temporary foreign workers; distributi on of resources directly to workers through provincial and federal government agencies, cultural organizations, settlement agencies and overseas recruitment partners; on-site workplace visits; and information seminars.
Saskatchewan is the fourth province that the federal government will be working with to develop a Letter of Understanding to facilitate information sharing on these important labour issues. The Government of Canada has entered into similar negotiations with Manitoba, British Colum bia and Alberta, which were announced in April 2008, September 2007 and July 2007 respectively.
Temporary Foreign Worker Program Letter of Understanding on Information Sharing
Hum an Resources and Social Development Canada/Service Canada (HRSDC/SC) is committed to strengthening protections for temporary foreign workers during their stay in Canada, both through its own initiatives and through cooperation with provincial and territor ial governments. To strengthen these protections, HRSDC/SC is developing a Letter of Understanding (LOU) on information sharing.
The LOU between HRSDC/SC and the Province of Saskatchewan will enable better communication between the two jurisdictio ns. The agreement will give the Province of Saskatchewan information on employers of temporary foreign workers that will help in the administration and enforcement of provincial legislation, including employment standards and occupational health and safet y legislation. It will also improve HRSDC/SC's ability to administer labour market opinions, which assess whether workers are being placed in workplaces that meet generally accepted Canadian standards.
Provincial and territorial governments are re sponsible for establishing and enforcing labour and occupational health and safety standards in their jurisdictions to ensure that foreign workers receive the same protection as Canadians.
The LOU will include four annexes outlining the specific types of information that will be transferred between the Province of Saskatchewan and HRSDC/SC. The first pair of annexes will outline the administrative data elements, and the second pair of annexes will outline the complaint-driven data elements.
The purpose of these annexes is to enable the systematic transfer between HRSDC/SC and the Province of Saskatchewan of information about employers that have received a labour market opinion in the past.
HRSDC/SC will share with the Province of Saskatchewan administrative and other information related to the labour market opinion, including employer information and job-specific information.
The Province of Saskatchewan will share information wi th HRSDC/SC that is specific to provincial labour standards and occupational health and safety legislation, including information on employers' infractions of labour market opinions that have occurred in various sectors and regions of the province.
This pair of annexes will help foreign workers come forward with complaints to regional Service Canada offices. They will permit HRSDC/SC officers to take information from a worker and directly transfer the com plaint to the appropriate provincial ministry on the worker's behalf.
These annexes are primarily intended to make the handling of complaints more efficient. They will enable HRSDC/SC and the Province of Saskatchewan to become more aware of the na ture of complaints being brought forward, and increase the province's access to the information it needs to enforce provincial labour standards.
SASKATCHEWAN IMMIGRANT NOMINEE PROGRAM PILOT PROJECT FOR OCCUPATIONS WITHIN THE HOSPITALITY AND FOOD SERVICES SECTOR
The Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) enables the province to provide a quicker means of entry for immigrants whose skills and abilities best fit the province's labour market needs. Through a federal-provincial agreement, Citizenship and Immigration Canada prioritizes permanent resident applications for individuals nominated by the province. The SINP focuses primarily on professional, managerial, skilled trade an d technical occupations.
The Saskatchewan Hotel and Hospitality Association and the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association have identified acute labour shortages and an inability to attract local workers in three occupational groups: f ood counter attendants, food and beverage servers and light-duty cleaners.
In response to labour shortages in the hospitality and food services sectors, Saskatchewan's Advanced Education, Employment and Labour ministry has expanded the SINP to in clude these occupations. Under this pilot project, temporary foreign workers who have worked for an approved employer in Saskatchewan for a minimum of six months are eligible to apply to the SINP for nomination. To be approved, employers are required to m eet Service Canada criteria. For example, they must offer wages within industry norms and demonstrate that they are unable to fill the positions locally. Employers must also submit a recruitment and settlement plan to the SINP.
A similar project was introduced for long-haul truck drivers in 2004.
In fiscal year 2008-09, the province has set a target of 2,800 nominations under the SINP. This represents an increase of 85 per cent from the 2007-08 target of 1,500 nominations.