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A group of temporary foreign workers make their way to a bus for the short ride to their temporary accommodation after a 13-hour shift at the Jealous Fruit sorting and packing plant in Kelowna on Aug. 22, 2014.

JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is calling on Ottawa to replace its controversial temporary foreign worker program with a visa that would provide a path to permanent residence for entry-level employees from abroad.

(What is the temporary foreign worker program? Read The Globe's easy explanation)

The organization says in a report released Monday it's proposing the Introduction to Canada Visa that would address labour shortages for small businesses.

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CFIB president and CEO Dan Kelly says the temporary foreign worker program has been legitimately criticized for using TFWs to fill permanent labour market needs.

He adds that small businesses would much rather hire permanent workers, but the immigration system doesn't allow them to hire people with entry-level skills. The Canadian economy needs workers at all skill levels, Kelly says.

The CFIB's proposed new visa would give foreign workers in entry-level categories an opportunity to work with an employer for two years as a defined step towards permanent residency.

Kelly also says that under the proposals any company seeking to hire an entry-level worker from abroad would have to employ a Canadian employee at the same wage.

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