The Harper government’s sweeping new employment insurance rules could also have a profound effect for a major employer in Brandon — and for the future of the city itself.
Employers would be required to search for local unemployed workers before going offshore to hire temporary employees.
“Bringing in temporary foreign workers is not acceptable, especially when we have Canadians willing to work,” Human Resources Minister Diane Finley said yesterday in announcing the changes.
She gave an example of fast-food restaurants in the Atlantic provinces having to hire foreign workers in an area that has high unemployment.
Brandon’s population growth has largely been driven by immigration, with Maple Leaf Foods bringing in hundreds and hundreds of foreign workers.
We all know the original plan in the late ’90s was to tap into some pretty deep pools of chronically unemployed in the Westman area. When that didn’t happen, the company was forced to look further afield and the face of Brandon was forever changed.
In fact, the Brandon Sun just reported Maple Leaf Foods is in the process of recruiting some 200 more foreign workers for its Brandon plant from Honduras and El Salvador.
But now, Ottawa is tightening EI eligibility with new rules that hit repeat claimants hardest, but will force all on the system to accept lower paying jobs.
The government says it will put strict definitions on what constitutes “suitable employment” and what the unemployed must do to find a job in order to get off EI, reports The Canadian Press.
We wonder how that could ultimately affect a key local employer such as Maple Leaf.
Especially given the feds’ new English Language Proficiency requirement for foreign workers applying for the low-skill jobs found at Maple Leaf.
We’re all for the government funding ways to get able-bodied people off employment insurance and into jobs, but regional realities must be weighed.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 25, 2012