This year's TFW Assembly got bigger and better!

The Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Assembly 2023 attracted a record number of 286 participants including temporary foreign workers from various cities in Alberta, such as Calgary, Edmonton, Brooks, and Medicine Hat organized at The Kerby Centre in downtown Calgary. The event truly celebrated diversity and empowerment while there was a rich tapestry of nationalities, including Mexico, the Philippines, India, and more. The TFW Assembly, which started last year, was a full-day event that brought together TFWs from all over Alberta in collaboration with Consulates, Alberta Government, and community partners. The main focus of the event was to raise awareness and advocate for the rights and welfare of workers in Canada, especially TFWs.

This year, it was an honor to witness the attendance of Consul General of El Salvador - Juan Antonio Salamanca, Vice-Consul General of the Philippine Consulate – Vic Dimagiba and Mexican Consular representative – Monica Flores who offered their unwavering support and assistance to all temporary foreign workers. Moreover, government representatives from various organizations provided insights and guidance on pathways to permanent residency, TFW’s rights and responsibilities, the challenges & realities faced by TFW’s and how they can be addressed. Our community partners from Alberta Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies (AAISA), Korean Social Services Centre (KSSC), IRERI-Mexican, Latino & Cross-Cultural Society, Cargill, Alberta Regional Council of Carpenters & Allied Workers and Ambrose University also graced the occasion to support TFW’s.

  CCIS' TFW program staff with consular representatives, guest speakers & partner organizations

The Assembly commenced with an inspiring opening address by Hasmik Asmaryan, Director of Business Employment and Training Services (BETS) at CCIS. She warmed the stage for an enlightening and empowering experience followed by the first session that kick started with TFW Rights and Responsibilities and government support for TFWs in Alberta. Steve Holzer from Occupations Health & Safety (OHS), Raymond Ivanzus from Service Canada, Simonette Pili & Doris Segura from Temporary Foreign Worker Advisory Office (TFWAO) promoted best practices for foreign workers to safeguard their rights and elaborated a range of government support & services available to them. The second session explored options of pathways to Permanent Residency led by Jatin Shory – a reputed Immigration & Refugee Lawyer and Nataly Ore from Alberta Advantage Immigration Program (AAIP). Lastly, the third session highlighted the realities of Serving and Advocating for TFW’s through a round table discussion where the speakers Zoe Lambert from the Worker Resource Centre, Marco Luciano from Migrante Alberta and Harry Dominguez Barbosa from CCIS talked about labor rights violations, limited resources available to TFW’s and advocated for measures to fill gaps in policies for TFW’s.

 

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First Filipino TFW Assembly successfully launched by CCIS' TFW Program

More than a hundred participants took part in the whole day Alberta Filipino Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) Assembly held on September 24, 2022, at the Kerby Gymnasium in Calgary.

The assembly was a first in terms of inter-agency collaboration between CCIS , Philippine government, Alberta government, and community partners to promote the rights and welfare of temporary foreign workers.  The event was organized by CCIS in partnership with the Philippine Consulate General in Calgary, Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), Overseas Workers Welfare Association (OWWA) , and Edmonton-based Catholic Social Services (CSS). The program was opened by Labour Attaché Jainal Rasul, Jr.  of POLO, Jessica Juen of CCIS and Consul General Zaldy Patron of the Philippine Consulate General in Calgary.

Organizers and resource persons. (Firsr row , left -right: Edwin Silang, CSS; Neil Nicolas , POLO; Lilia de Guzman , OWWA; Olive Macawili, POLO, Consul General Zaldy Patron, Labor Attache Jainal Rasul Jr., Vice Consul Stephanie Cruz, Imelda CAbansag, OWWA; Second Row L-R: Edwin Chavez, CCIS;  Jessica Juen, CCIS; Paul Huismon  and Simonette PIli, Government of Alberta;; Zoe Lambert, Workers Resource Centre; Byanca Nimijean , ACT Alberta; and Lawyer Jatin Shory)

 Foreign workers and community members from Calgary, Edmonton, High River, Banff, Red Deer and as far as Camrose, were so thankful and happy to learn about their rights and welfare and their specific concerns addressed in the assembly.

In the morning, Calgary Workers’ Resource Center’s  Zoe Lambert discussed TFW Rights and Responsibilities . This topic was supplemented by speakers from Alberta’s Ministry of Labour and Immigration , Maggie Godzic of Employment Standards and Simonette Pili of TFW Advisory Office , by providing information about the role of the TFW Advisory Office and pointers on submitting complaints to Employment Standards office and conflict resolution process.

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Government of Canada announces Workforce Solutions Road Map – further changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to address labour shortages across Canada

April 4, 2022              Gatineau, Quebec              Employment and Social Development Canada

Canada’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is well underway. In February 2022, Canada added 337,000 jobs, bringing our unemployment rate to 5.5% - the lowest since the start of the pandemic. In fact, Canada’s economic recovery is outpacing the ability of many employers to find workers. To support Canada’s continued economic growth, the Government of Canada is focused on building a strong, resilient workforce in all sectors.

That is why today, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, announced the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program Workforce Solutions Road Map. This initiative marks the next step in an ongoing effort to adjust and improve the TFW Program to ensure it continues to meet the labour market needs of today. Central to this is addressing labour shortages, enhancing worker protections and building a stronger workforce for today and tomorrow, including through pathways to permanent residency. Five key policy changes will be implemented in the coming weeks as part of the TFW Program Workforce Solutions Road Map to respond to current labour and skills shortages. Effective immediately:

  • To address seasonal peaks, there will no longer be a limit to the number of low-wage positions that employers in seasonal industries, such as fish and seafood processing, can fill through the TFW Program. This makes permanent the Seasonal Cap Exemption that has been in place since 2015.  In addition, the maximum duration of these positions will be increased from 180 days to 270 days per year.
  • Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) will be valid for 18 months, an increase from 9 months. (Prior to COVID-19, LMIA’s were valid for 6 months).
  • The maximum duration of employment for High-Wage and Global Talent Streams workers will be extended from two years to three years. This extension will help workers access pathways to qualify for permanent residency, enabling them to contribute to our workforce for the long-term.

Effective April 30:

  • For seven sectors with demonstrated labour shortages, such as Accommodation and Food Services, employers will be allowed to hire up to 30% of their workforce through the TFW Program for low-wage positions for one year.  All other employers will be allowed to hire up to 20% of their workforce through the TFW Program for low-wage positions until further notice, an increase from the former 10% cap for many employers.
  • The Government will end the current policy that automatically refuses LMIA applications for low-wage occupations in the Accommodation and Food Services and Retail Trade sectors in regions with an unemployment rate of 6% or higher.


In 2020, TFWs made up less than 0.4% of the Canadian workforce and will continue to make up a small percentage of our workforce with these changes. The Government will carefully monitor implementation and continually review the policies to ensure they are addressing real labour shortages without displacing Canadian workers. The Government continues to support broader efforts to build a strong Canadian workforce for today and tomorrow. This includes historic investments in jobs and skills training, improving working conditions, and strengthening worker protections. The TFW Program will continue 

In order to ensure that employers across the country can hire TFWs in a timely manner, Service Canada recently implemented a series of measures to increase capacity and expedite the processing of LMIA applications. This includes increasing staffing resources in all regions, including Quebec. Employers are also encouraged to submit their application online to reduce processing time. These changes will not affect the stringent checks undertaken through the process to keep workers safe and protect labour market conditions.

All of these changes are occurring alongside the Government’s ongoing work to strengthen worker protections. Today, Minister Qualtrough also announced that she will convene the inaugural TFW Program Ministerial Consultative Roundtable in June 2022 to hear directly from worker representatives and other stakeholders on how to make the program stronger and more effective for workers, employers and their communities. The focus of the first Roundtable will be on housing accommodations, as the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for safe and adequate employer-provided housing for TFWs. This Roundtable builds on working group discussions already underway between federal, provincial and territorial officials on this topic. As part of a ‘What We Heard Report’ released in December 2021, the Government of Canada committed to changes in this area to address immediate health and safety concerns.

ESDC is also working to rebuild the TFW compliance regime to better protect TFWs. Ongoing activities to strengthen ESDC’s risk-based approach to target higher-risk employers include:

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Prairie organizations connect to increase outreach to temporary foreign workers amidst COVID-19 challenges

Prairie organizations connect to increase outreach to temporary foreign workers amidst COVID-19 challenges

Sandra LeBlanc/News Editor

Anthony Huynh recalls one interview in particular in which a temporary foreign worker told him “thank you for talking to me.” 

“I’m honoured, right? But at the same time, it also shows me that it’s not right,” Huynh said. “There needs to be systemic and structural changes.”

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Most Canadians support permanent immigration pathways for temporary foreign workers

Most Canadians support permanent immigration pathways for temporary foreign workers | Canada Immigration News (cicnews.com)

 

 

The majority of Canadians agree that temporary immigrants are essential to the agricultural sector.

 
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The majority of Canadians want to see temporary workers in the agricultural sector become permanent residents, according to a new survey.

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Support for Temporary Foreign Workers Project

"Support for Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) Affected by COVID-19” is a program designed to provide support to open or closed work permit holders and undocumented workers. This program connects TFWs with the resources available in the community to help them exercise their rights. This episode discusses more about the project, who TFWs are, and the enormous sacrifices made behind the scenes of these migrant workers.

Aired live on CFCR 90.5 FM Sunday, October 17 2021

 

 

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