Quebec addresses labour shortages in wood product manufacturing

Jane Deeks

As Canada and countries worldwide respond to the pandemic, key sectors in the economy continue to need more workers to build a strong workforce. This is particularly true in Quebec, where the province continues to experience long-standing workforce recruitment challenges.

The Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, highlighted significant progress made on implementing its pilot project with the Government of Quebec. This progress includes implementing the increased maximum number of Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) allowed in low-wage positions that employers in specific sectors can hire, as designated by Quebec. Effective January 10, those employers can hire up to 20% (an increase of 10% for most of them).

“A critical part of Canada’s economic recovery and long-term growth is a strong workforce,” said Qualtrough. “That’s why our government is updating the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to help address labour shortages in Quebec immediately. We will always work closely with provinces and territories to meet the needs of employers across the country.”

This announcement also builds on flexibilities to existing advertising and recruitment requirements for specific in-demand occupations, as Quebec designated, which was implemented on December 6, 2021.

The occupations and sectors selected by Quebec for pilot measures have been identified following consultations with labour market stakeholders part of the Commission des Partenaires du Marché du Travail. This was done to ensure that measures included in this pilot project represent labor market needs in the province and do not displace opportunities for Canadian workers.

In the coming months, the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec, in consultation with Quebec labour market partners, will also be adding to the list of occupations that are currently benefiting from a simpler process to hire TFWs. The measure applies to business in nine specific sectors identified by Quebec, including wood product manufacturing.

When first announced on August 6, 2021, this pilot project was intended to run until December 31, 2023. On November 30, 2021, the Government of Canada agreed to extend the program until December 31, 2024. After the pilot project, the Government of Canada will evaluate outcomes to help inform its future decisions.

Alongside launching these new pilot measures, ESDC is also working to rebuild the TFW compliance regime to help better protect TFWs in the future. Ongoing activities to strengthen ESDC’s risk-based approach to target higher risk employers include:

  • Enhancing TFW inspection tools and mandatory training to strengthen the quality and timeliness of inspections;
  • Continuing to leverage its tip line service, allowing workers to flag any situation of abuse or misuse of the program in a confidential manner;
  • Continuing to raise employers’ awareness of their obligations to foster compliance with the TFW Program’s conditions; and,
  • Expanding the concierge service with consulates helps ESDC identify concerns that need immediate attention.

Jane Deeks is the Director of Communications for the Office of the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion at Employment and Social Development Canada.

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