Foreign workers essential to seasonal businesses can not enter Quebec, delayed by bureaucratic delays. To the point where business people are afraid of losing deals this spring.
For five years, Gabriel Tougas Leclerc, owner of GTL Paysagiste, hires foreign workers to complete his teams.
Seasonal workers from Guatemala, who were due on 1 st April, may enter the country with two months late.
Lack of manpower, Mr. Tougas Leclerc fears losing contracts this season.
“I’m stressed,” he says. My workers from Guatemala call me and ask me what’s going on. ”
Gabriel Tougas Leclerc is nevertheless taken in advance. He sent out his documents in October 2018. In the past, his workers already had their permits in February.
Concerned, the Quebec Association of Professional Landscape Architects (APPQ) sent a notice to its members to urge them to put pressure on their federal MPs.
According to the APPQ, which represents 250 companies, some employers hire up to 20 foreign workers each year for 10 years.
“The panic mode has started,” says Judith Leblond, Executive Director of APPQ. The contractors knew that their workers would arrive in mid-June and even in late June. It can not work in a calendar of seasonal businesses like ours to be so late. Several companies live hours of anxiety thinking of their start to the season turned upside down. ”
The situation is less glaring for farmers because their season starts later. They employ 12,000 Mexicans and Guatemalans each year. The Union of Agricultural Producers (UPA) nevertheless anticipates two weeks of delay.
“Farmers are on the alert,” says Denis Roy, UPA Immigration Consultant. This is not the kind of concern we want. We would have liked to just worry about the weather. ”
Denis Roy argues that at the request of the government, requests were sent earlier this year. However, federal services have not been as fast as last year.
“It is certain that it has an impact,” explains Denis Roy. The consumer may not see it on the market, but workers will have to work overtime and overtime. With an early spring, we would not have been able to anticipate the arrival of the workers. ”
SHORTAGE AND BIOMETRY
When an employer wants to bring in foreign workers, he must first apply for a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). However, Employment and Social Development Canada recognizes that the usual processing times for LMIAs are longer because of the shortage of manpower. He says efforts have been made to reduce delays, including the hiring of 34 additional employees in Montreal to process applications.
“The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) is currently experiencing a 23% increase in the number of Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) applications submitted by employers across Canada, including Quebec”, wrote to us by e-mail from Employment and Social Development Canada spokesperson Christopher Simard.
Once the employer has been authorized to hire foreign workers, they must apply for a work permit and visa. Since July 31, 2018, the government requires biometric data, digital photos and fingerprints. This new procedure would increase the deadlines, according to the actors of the environment.
The Federal Ministry of Immigration, however, told us by email that it was too early to know the impact of biometric data requirements on processing times for nationals of the Americas.
The government promises a faster and simpler LMIA application process.
“Hopefully, for 2020, the process should be simpler, and it will shorten deadlines,” says Fernando Borja, executive director of the Foundation of Enterprises in Recruitment of Foreign Agricultural Labor.