PE Ledger

P.E.I. businesses include changes to the interim foreign worker program


Key takeaways: 

  • The federal government revealed changes last week.
  • Businesses to engage and keep temporary foreign employees.

P.E.I.’s seafood processing enterprise says it’s “pleased” with changes that make it easier for businesses to employ and keep interim foreign workers.

The previous week, the federal government declared changes to its Temporary Foreign Workers Program, which is meant to help industries presently facing labor shortages.

As part of the changes, there will no longer be a boundary in the number of low-wage jobs employers in seasonal industries such as seafood processing can fill with interim foreign workers. 

In addition, the number of days the employees can stay in this position has grown from 180 days each year to 270 days.

“Every year, we had to request an extension to let the workers stay up to 270 days,” stated Jerry Gavin, executive director of the P.E.I. Seafood Processors Association. “There will be no requirement to continue to request [for] that extension, so we’re happy with those changes.”

Also read: First truckloads of P.E.I. potatoes reach American markets

The federal government revealed changes last week

“It means that hopefully, we will have sufficient employees in place this spring to process the lobsters arriving in from the spring harvest and, of course, the fall harvest. And, for our mussel operators, we see an upsurge in demand for the products. In some circumstances, they are also looking at interim foreign workers.”

‘Serious labor need’

Beginning next month, employers will be permitted to employ up to 20 percent of their workforce through the program for low-wage positions instead of only 10 percent.

A few sectors, such as food services, will be permitted to employ up to 30 percent of workers through the program.

“[The changes] are targeted more towards processing, a crucial part of the industry, so they will be useful,” said Donald Killorn, executive director of the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture.

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