Senator Nancy Greene Raine questions Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, MaryAnn Mihychuk, on the temporary foreign worker program

Question Period—Employment, Workforce Development and Labour

Temporary Foreign Worker Program

November 15, 2016

The Honourable Senator Nancy Greene Raine :

Thank you very much, minister, for being here today.

My question is also on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, and I hope you know that it is causing serious issues for the ski industry in Western Canada, which is where I've been working for the last 40 or 50 years.

The original Temporary Foreign Worker Program was working and was being honoured very well. The changes that were made created all kinds of issues, and in fact the labour shortages doubled between 2014 and 2015. Right now, businesses are closing rooms and they're reducing their hours because they can't find enough employees. Opportunities are being lost and customers are being turned away. The impact on Canada's tourism revenue is significant: Over $1 billion in direct revenue has been lost —

The Hon. the Speaker: Excuse me, Senator Raine. The time for Question Period has expired. If you could get to your question quickly, we'll ask for leave for the minister to answer it.

Is leave granted, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Raine: I'd like to clarify that the minister understands the challenges that face Canada's non-urban resort areas. I know the house committee did a report and that you are preparing an answer. I want to make sure that you understand this is critical.

Hon. MaryAnn Mihychuk, P.C., M.P., Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour: Thank you for the question. Of course, any time any business is challenged in finding workers, I will work with them to make sure that that happens, whether it's through temporary foreign workers or through the development of a local population. We know that there are opportunities that need some pre-employment work, which we will definitely be doing. I think that your tourism industry can count on us. The last thing that we ever want to see is a business move away, or not to find the resources it needs.