Lack of foreign workers is hurting the economic recovery

Many economic sectors want to increase the number of their temporary foreign workers who are at risk of losing contracts or relocating their activities entirely to the United States.

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Currently, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) established by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Development limits the number of temporary foreign workers at 10% with a salary of less than $ 22 an hour in Quebec, equivalent to the average hourly wage in the province.

This measure was applied to protect Canadian workers. For higher salaries, there is no limit, but hiring is just as difficult.

According to Sylvain Pelletier, head of technical recruiting firm Métier Plus International, this is Groundhog Day. With the economic recovery, the labor shortage problems they had suffered before the pandemic are back.

“It’s very simple. All technical professions are underemployed,” he reveals.

Alexandre Desmaris, Operations Director at CNC Solstice, a welder based in Saint-Hubert, in Montérégie, also has the same problem. Due to manpower shortage, the promised waiting time for customer orders doubled recently. Concretely, Mr Desmarais takes the example of government contracts that can take twice as long to see the light.

The same applies to the manufacturing sector.

“It really is a hindrance. There are people who cannot take orders and they have to turn them down because they are unable to get the workers they need. Many of those I spoke to in Quebec regions are thinking of consolidating their business on the American side, because they have not succeeded,” the head of the manufacturing and export company laments in Quebec, Veronique Prolux.

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As of December 31, the employment rate in its sector is 96.9%, as in March 2020.

“Even if we had [environ] 100,000 unemployed [au Québec]Nobody is applying for these positions. “

All agreed that increasing the number of foreign workers by 10% would greatly help their business, because these jobs are either not filled in Quebec or are of no interest to the unemployed.

In this context, Ms. Brolux would like to have a rate for foreign workers commensurate with the company’s needs.

“Why set the ratio? It is unique to every business. Referring to the administrative procedures announced by the companies to prove their problem,” There is no rate that suits anyone.

According to Mr. Pelletier, raising the wages of foreign workers is not necessarily the solution.

“You have to pay the same salary as the employees in the factory. If they belong to unions, you cannot play with the wages as you want.”

“If you increase wages too much, you will not be able to compete with what comes from elsewhere.” At the same time, he said, the consumer will also be affected, because he will pay much more for the same product.

At the time of writing, we were awaiting a response from Canadian Employment and Social Development. At the provincial level, the Minister of Labor, Employment and Social Solidarity, Jean Bouillet, announced, on Friday, a financial aid of $ 1.9 million, which will allow the establishment of a new training offer targeting the unemployed, especially those who work in more sectors of the economy. Affected by the health crisis.

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