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Hiring foreign workers – Know the risks



A Canadian mining company is at the centre of a foreign worker hiring case, with both sides in a heated debate over whether or not any attempts were made to hire Canadian workers prior to employing over 200 foreign workers at the Murray River mine near Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia. HD Mining International Ltd. overseas manager Michael Xiao says the firm completed an exhaustive effort to recruit skillful Canadian workers. Temporary work permits were granted to over 200 Chinese workers. The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 115 and Construction and Specialized Workers Union Local 1611 have filed a lawsuit as a result. The majority of the foreign workers are slated to arrive in Canada mid-December, and HD Mining International Ltd. would like to see that lawsuit dropped sooner, rather than later.

This case is one to watch in terms of hiring foreign workers in Canada. At the centre of the case is the hotly debated topic – how to measure whether or not sufficient effort was put into hiring local workers prior to recruiting overseas. Many Canadian firms have exploited overseas workers by offering compensation that is significantly lower than the prevailing rate. In this case, unions are arguing that HD Mining offered overseas workers jobs paying up to $17 an hour less than what would be offered to local workers. Hiring foreign workers is currently a contentious topic, not only in Canada but across North America. In particular, what are the risks of hiring foreign workers and how can those risks be mitigated?

Providing proof of local recruitment attempts

The biggest risk lies in proving that a comprehensive recruitment effort was made to hire Canadian workers, as in the case of HD Mining. There are many intricacies involved with proving that there has been an attempt to hire within the country, prior to hiring temporary foreign workers. Often times, even if a firm believes they have made the attempt, they are faced with a lawsuit. Ensuring that proper pursuit for local workers has been completed is a complicated process. To assure that due diligence is accomplished, it is advised that firms seek the help of an expert with experience in government standards and immigration law.

Obtaining government approval

Obtaining approval from the Canadian government is, as the HD Mining case has reinforced, complex. There are many critical actions that must be taken and important documents must be submitted prior to be being approved. Investing one’s own time and energy into this process is often overwhelming. Most firms take it upon themselves to hire an immigration lawyer who has expertise and experience in Canadian immigration law and provincial labour standards. Foreign recruitment can be a beneficial experience, but the risk of not completing proper approval paperwork can be extremely costly. Seeking guidance from an expert in the field of immigration law is a simple, and cost-efficient way to mitigate this risk.

Pre-screening applicants

Temporary workers require far fewer qualifications than those who plan to immigrate permanently. However, the qualifications, few or many, should be taken seriously. Skills beyond those required for a specific position should be taken into account, if the applicant is planning to work elsewhere down the road. For foreign workers who plan to immigrate permanently, there are limited low-skilled positions, thus more than just basic skills should be called for. Currently, Immigration Canada accepts applications from skilled workers with evidence of one year of continuous full-time paid work experience within the last ten years, at the very minimum (country standards vary). While this requirement is the basic minimum, firms should strive to recruit excellent workers and staff, in order to maximize their experience. Failing to fully pre-screen applicants puts a firm at risk for recruiting adequate workers who only perform to a satisfactory level. This risk is mitigated by making every effort hire workers with more than the basic requirements. It will not only benefit the firm, but will provide workers with more experience should they apply for permanent residency.

The risks of hiring temporary foreign workers should be taken seriously. That being said, there are countless firms who enjoy the considerable benefits that accompany foreign recruitment. Taking the time to be aware of the risks and benefits of recruiting foreign workers is a critical step in enjoying these benefits. Firms that have successfully recruited qualified foreign workers have enjoyed great retention rates and a better workforce.

About the author:
Meghan Tooley is a commerce student and active online blogger from Winnipeg, Manitoba. She often offers her views on ethics standards surrounding foreign policy, as it relates to industry trends. She writes on behalf of Metric Marketing, a marketing/communications firm also based in Winnipeg. For more information about Winnipeg immigration and hiring foreign workers, you can contact the law firm of Davis Immigration Law.

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