Yukon foreign worker program unaffected by federal ban

Recent changes to Canada's temporary foreign worker program won't impact Yukon businesses using similar programs offered by the Yukon government.

Recent changes to Canada’s temporary foreign worker program won’t impact Yukon businesses using similar programs offered by the Yukon government.

Last week, federal employment minister Jason Kenney announced an immediate ban on restaurants and the food services sector using the controversial program, in response to revelations that some fast food restaurants are abusing the program.

But that won’t affect Yukon businesses who are using the territory’s own temporary foreign worker system, according to Shawn Kitchen, the assistant deputy minister of advanced education, which oversees the program.

“If there was an employer that was using the federal stream, it would affect them. On the Yukon side, our program is substantially different,” Kitchen said.

The Yukon’s own program is still in its infancy, having been launched as a pilot project in August of last year. It targets only the oil, gas and mining sectors, as well as tourism, Kitchen said.

“As we were developing it, we saw nationally more and more of the issues that Canada saw federally. As we learned from that, we started making some changes to the development of our program to address the challenges we were seeing federally,” Kitchen said.

One of the key differences between the two programs is that Yukon temporary workers are only eligible to work in the territory for 12 months; the federal program approves applicants for four years.

“One of the other challenges we’ve seen elsewhere is layoffs of Canadians. We’re saying if there are layoffs, for the following year you cannot offer temporary foreign workers a position until you’ve offered those laid-off workers the chance to come back,” Kitchen said.

Right now there hasn’t been much uptake of the program, in part because it’s still very new and also because of the slowdown in the mining sector, Kitchen said.

Since the program was launched in August, Kitchen said there have been about 25 applications for temporary foreign workers, and fewer than 10 have been approved. All the applications have come from the tourism sector.

However, many Yukon businesses take advantage of another program to bring in foreign workers. The Yukon nominee program allows employers to bring in foreign workers and nominate them for permanent residency. That program also won’t be affected by the new federal changes.

Northern Vision Development uses the program at many of its hotel businesses.

“For us, the (temporary foreign worker program) is more trouble than it’s worth,” said Philip Fitzgerald, the company’s chief financial officer.

“We use the nominee program. We have for many years. It’s a much better fit for us,” Fitzgerald said.

For many Yukon businesses, the prospect of bringing in a foreign worker makes more sense if that person has the chance to stay longer and eventually become a permanent resident.

Earlier this month the C.D. Howe Institute released a report that said the influx of temporary foreign workers in the country over the last decade – from around 100,000 to nearly 340,000 – is partially responsible for the rising unemployment rates in B.C. and Alberta.

Kenney’s office is now promising a review of the program and suggesting that tougher restrictions will be put in place.

Contact Jesse Winter at

jessew@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley gives a COVID-19 update during a press conference in Whitehorse on May 26. The Yukon government announced two new cases of COVID-19 in the territory with a press release on Oct. 19. (Alistair Maitland Photography)
Two new cases of COVID-19 announced in Yukon

Contact tracing is complete and YG says there is no increased risk to the public

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on April 8. Yukon Energy faced a potential “critical” fuel shortage in January due to an avalanche blocking a shipping route from Skagway to the Yukon, according to an email obtained by the Yukon Party and questioned in the legislature on Oct. 14. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Energy faced ‘critical’ fuel shortage last January due to avalanche

An email obtained by the Yukon Party showed energy officials were concerned

Jeanie McLean (formerly Dendys), the minister responsible for the Women’s Directorate speaks during legislative assembly in Whitehorse on Nov. 27, 2017. “Our government is proud to be supporting Yukon’s grassroots organizations and First Nation governments in this critical work,” said McLean of the $175,000 from the Yukon government awarded to four community-based projects aimed at preventing violence against Indigenous women. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon government gives $175k to projects aimed at preventing violence against Indigenous women

Four projects were supported via the Prevention of Violence against Aboriginal Women Fund

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone

When I was a kid, CP Air had a monopoly on flights… Continue reading

asdf
EDITORIAL: Don’t let the City of Whitehorse distract you

A little over two weeks after Whitehorse city council voted to give… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Northwestel has released the proposed prices for its unlimited plans. Unlimited internet in Whitehorse and Carcross could cost users between $160.95 and $249.95 per month depending on their choice of package. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet options outlined

Will require CRTC approval before Northwestel makes them available

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse. Yukon’s territorial government will sit for 45 days this sitting instead of 30 days to make up for lost time caused by COVID-19 in the spring. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Legislative assembly sitting extended

Yukon’s territorial government will sit for 45 days this sitting. The extension… Continue reading

asdf
Today’s mailbox: Mad about MAD

Letters to the editor published Oct. 16, 2020

Alkan Air hangar in Whitehorse. Alkan Air has filed its response to a lawsuit over a 2019 plane crash that killed a Vancouver geologist on board, denying that there was any negligence on its part or the pilot’s. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Alkan Air responds to lawsuit over 2019 crash denying negligence, liability

Airline filed statement of defence Oct. 7 to lawsuit by spouse of geologist killed in crash

Whitehorse city council members voted Oct. 13 to decline an increase to their base salaries that was set to be made on Jan. 1. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Council declines increased wages for 2021

Members will not have wages adjusted for CPI

A vehicle is seen along Mount Sima Road in Whitehorse on May 12. At its Oct. 13 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the third reading for two separate bylaws that will allow the land sale and transfer agreements of city-owned land — a 127-square-metre piece next to 75 Ortona Ave. and 1.02 hectares of property behind three lots on Mount Sima Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Whitehorse properties could soon expand

Land sale agreements approved by council

Most Read