Quebec is seeing a sharp increase in the number of temporary skilled workers as businesses look for other ways to bring in labour with the provincial government cutting down immigration.
The number of work permits sent out for Quebec went up by Thirty-Six (36) per cent in 2018, with 17,685 work permits sent out during the year.
Statistics show that the rise is continuing in 2019 with Twenty-One (21) per cent more work permits sent out in the first quarter compared to last year.
The rise comes against a backdrop of the (CAQ) Coalition Avenir Quebec’s plan to cut down immigration by Twenty (20) per cent in 2019, from about 50,000 to around 40,000 newcomers.
Some business groups have urged the CAQ to review the decision, pointing to 120,000 vacant jobs in the province.
As Quebec faces an ageing population and dwindling labour force, the shortage has to be made up somewhere and it looks like employers are resorting back to temporary workers.
Temporary skilled workers come to Quebec through the federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program, with Quebec’s approval needed before the work permit is granted.
A significant rise has been seen in the number of permits sent out for agricultural industry jobs, as well as positions in food processing, manufacturing and tourism.
While temporary workers may be a quick way to tackle shortages of labour, stakeholders argue the influx is not the way to address what has become a perennial problem.
Work permit holders are viewed in some quarters as a superficial fix for the underlying problem of dwindling labour force and ageing population.
Many doubt that the recent increase in temporary skilled worker numbers can be of help in the longer term.
They see employers being forced to go down the temporary worker route because more viable options are not available.
First, employers must get a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) in order to hire a temporary worker.
The LMIA is required to show the job or position could not be filled with a permanent resident or Canadian citizen.
Foreign skilled workers intending to work in Quebec must get their LMIA applications assessed and processed by the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and the Quebec immigration ministry (MIDI).
If the provincial government gave a positive LMIA, it will issue a Quebec Acceptance Certification, which must be provided on request by a foreign worker to a Canadian border officer at the port of entry for work in Quebec.