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Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) is throwing its support behind the federal government’s announced changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program to address labour shortages in Canada.

"CME had long called for the improvement of TFW, and we thank to the government for taking the immediate and necessary actions," said Dennis Darby, CME President and CEO. "While this is a positive trajectory for Canadian manufacturers, we still have work to do."

As part of its TFW Program Workforce Solutions Road Map, Ottawa is extending the maximum duration of employment for the High-Wage and Global Talent streams to three years from the previous two years. It is also increasing the validity of Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIAs) up to three years (it as just six months before the pandemic) and increasing the 10 per cent cap on the number of TWF in the Lowe-Wage category to 20 per cent.

In a recent survey of manufacturers across Canada by CME, more than 80 per cent of respondents stated that they face immediate labour and skills shortages, up significantly from 60 per cent in 2020. The survey revealed that most manufacturers are struggling to fill general labour and assembly as well as skilled production (welders, machinists, operators, etc.) positions with 77 per cent reporting that attracting and retaining a quality workforce is their biggest challenge.

"After the agricultural sector, it is the manufacturing sector that makes the greatest use of temporary foreign workers. That said, there are currently more than 81,000 job vacancies in the manufacturing sector. These are good, high paying jobs that are going unfilled. We need the federal government to address application backlogs, to streamline the Temporary Foreign Worker Program by adopting a trusted employer system, and to increase the intake of economic class immigrants," added Darby.

In 2020, manufacturing industry had 11,499 positions hold by TFW, which made 9.3 per cent of total positions held by temporary foreign workers in Canada. In 2019, this number was 7 per cent of the total.

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