Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

MP Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development meets with The Globe and Mail's editorial board in Toronto, Ontario, Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

The elimination of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program for low-wage jobs will be on the table in 2016, says Employment Minister Jason Kenney, who is not backing down in the face of business criticism that the Conservative government is already going too far.

From the Canadian Meat Council to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, business groups are speaking out against Ottawa's latest plan to cap the number of low-wage foreign workers and impose higher fees.

(What is the Temporary Foreign Worker Program? Read The Globe's easy explanation)

Story continues below advertisement

But in a meeting with The Globe and Mail's editorial board Tuesday, Mr. Kenney insists the warnings from business leaders are exaggerated. He also indicated the government could soon go much further.

Through a phase-in of new caps on low-wage foreign workers and the launch of more detailed labour market surveys, Mr. Kenney indicated that the government will be in a position by 2016 to assess whether it should take the next step.

"At that point [in 2016], I think the government can do a reassessment and look at whether it would be desirable to go to zero right across the country," Mr. Kenney said. "So I'm saying quite publicly that we're leaving our options open. There will be great resistance to that."

The overhaul of the program has been called an "appalling overreaction" by business groups and has the Conservatives suddenly playing defence in the Western stronghold of Alberta, where the changes are expected to hit hard.

All three men vying to become the next Alberta premier, including front-runner Jim Prentice, say Ottawa is unfairly punishing the province and would demand more control over immigration policy to deal with labour shortages, as Quebec has now.

Mr. Kenney also confirmed that further changes to the Live-In Caregiver component of the TFW Program will be announced later this year. The government remains concerned with the caregiver stream even though that part of the TFW Program was left largely untouched Friday when he and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced major changes.

As The Globe reported this week, Canadian officials in the Philippines have been warning colleagues for years that the caregiver program was facing abuse and had largely become a "hidden" family reunification program.

Story continues below advertisement

As far back as 2009 when he was immigration minister, Mr. Kenney said he recalls meeting in Manila with 70 women who were on their way to Canada via the program and every single one of them planned to work for a relative.

"The biggest problem I see in it is that … to a great deal, it has mutated into an extended family reunification program, which was not its intent," Mr. Kenney said Tuesday. "As best we can tell, a majority of the entrants in that program were actually coming to work for relatives – for family members."

The fact that the caregiver program allows workers to apply for permanent residency for themselves and their family has "clogged" up the immigration system, said Mr. Kenney. The minister would not speculate on whether the government is considering the elimination of this benefit.

"These are issues that Chris Alexander is grappling with and will be making some kind of reform announcement later this year," he said.

Some of the government's critics will have the opportunity to raise their objections directly with Mr. Kenney Wednesday at a one-day policy gathering.

Mr. Kenney is in Toronto this week to play host to the gathering, a "Skills Summit" that he and his department organized. The one-day conference includes a broad spectrum of public-policy experts. University professors, business groups and labour leaders will have an opportunity to debate the broader issues related to Canada's labour market. Senior federal and provincial public servants will also attend.

Story continues below advertisement

The list of invited speakers includes people, such as Canadian Chamber of Commerce President Perrin Beatty, who have been critical of the government's foreign worker changes.

The four main topics on the agenda include whether skills shortages exist in Canada, how labour market data could be improved, how to reform educational and vocational training and how to match underrepresented groups like aboriginals and people with disabilities to available jobs.

The policy summit is taking place ahead of a meeting of federal and provincial labour ministers next month that will focus on issues such as the new Canada Job Grant training subsidy.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies