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Businesses are hiring temporary foreign workers because the Canadian labour market is shrinking, say Canadian businesses in a survey from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

Read: 296,000 job vacancies nationwide in Q4

“Eight out of ten small businesses looking to hire staff in the last three years had difficulty doing so. Among restaurants and other hospitality businesses looking to hire, 85% had trouble,” says CFIB president Dan Kelly. “There are some jobs that Canadians are not flocking to and wages are only part of the story.”

Misconceptions about abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) have led the Canadian government to bar the program from small businesses in the restaurant sector some of which may not survive without it.

Read: Workers needed as mining sector ramps up

Businesses that turn to the TFWP look for Canadian workers first.  After recruitment attempts across the country, 72% of businesses increase wage offers before turning to foreign workers.

And, 55% of hospitality firms introduced or expanded employee benefit programs­– a challenge in a sector with tight margins and high business failure rates.

Read: Don’t let employees drift away

“Hiring through the TFWP is complicated, it’s time-consuming, and much more costly than hiring local. Employers much prefer to hire Canadians if local staff are willing and able to do the job,” says Kelly.

Small business owners don’t condone abuse of the system, the survey finds; 85% of respondents say misusing the TFWP should result in that business losing program access.

Read: Business owner optimism drops

“Small businesses want the program to be used appropriately,” says Kelly, “but shutting down access for sectors that need the workers and follow the rules is deeply unfair and will do serious damage to the affected firms.”

Originally published on Advisor.ca

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