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Tim Hortons Responds to Temporary Foreign Worker Program Revision

OTTAWA – Tim Hortons CEO Marc Caira has expressed concern about new policy that restricts the employment of temporary foreign workers in Canada.

Canada’s largest coffee chain relies heavily on foreign labour, especially in remote locations with a genuine lack of available Canadian staffing candidates. CEO Caira sees potential staffing shortages as a by-product of the recently revised Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TWFP). In a public address hosted by Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, Caira spoke of over 100,000 temporary foreign workers currently employed at approximately 3,600 Tim Hortons restaurants, serving eight out of ten cups of coffee per day. Caira states that the loss of temporary foreign workers will dramatically decrease the speed and quality of service on which Tim Hortons prides itself.

Caira’s comments follow Canadian Employment Minister Jason Kenney’s announcement on June 20 that temporary foreign workers will now only be hired strictly as a “last and limited resort to fill acute labour shortages.” In regions facing unemployment rates of at least 6 percent, there will be a ban on entry-level restaurant positions that will directly affect businesses like Tim Hortons.

The latest reforms to Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program follow closely on the heels of Employment Minister Kenney’s April 2014 moratorium on work permit applications from restaurant employers. The new regulations aim to address reported abuses of the program nationwide, however, Caira maintains that Tim Hortons has always used the program responsibly, and that the company makes a priority of hiring Canadian employees before turning to foreign workers.

Caira warns that impeding foreign labour will actually have a negative effect on the Canadian workforce. “If you don’t have access to some of the foreign workers where they are required,” Caira contends, “it will ultimately also impact on the Canadians that work in that area because we can’t really deliver on the promise that we want in terms of delivering quality service.”

Under the revised regulations, 25 percent of employers will now be subject to workplace inspections, while the maximum duration of work permits for low-skilled NOC’s will be reduced from two years to one. The government did not single out any one particular business, but cited general concern as the motivation for revamping Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

The TFWP falls under the shared jurisdiction of three governmental departments: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), Service Canada, and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). To date, the program has served as Canada’s primary method of temporarily offsetting domestic labour shortages.  It has also been a facilitator of skilled labour that eventually goes on to qualify for Canadian immigration.

Caira hopes that the reformed program rules will be flexible, and that companies like Tim Hortons will still be able “to engage with the government — to work with them to allow us to have some input into this flexibility.”

Minister Kenney’s spokesperson Alexandra Fortier reassured Canadian employers that, if they “truly cannot find Canadians,” they would still be able to use the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. In an email quoted by, Fortier says that in the meantime, “Employers must redouble their efforts to recruit and train Canadians, and must do more to recruit traditionally under-represented Canadians.”

For more information about Canadian work permits and immigration to Canada, contact First Immigration Law Firm toll-free in North America @ 1-855-360-4333 or 514-360-4333 international.