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This article was published 30/3/2009 (3012 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
New provincial immigration rules designed to protect foreign workers may also reduce the flow of migrants into labour-starved Manitoba, charges an organization representing licensed immigration consultants.
On April 1, companies that charge foreign workers money to navigate their way through the Canadian immigration system will be barred from also working as labour recruiters in this province, thanks to new regulations designed to prevent any worker from paying to find a job in Manitoba.
While the intent of the new Worker Recruitment and Protection Act is to crack down on unscrupulous agents who prey on people desperately trying to leave developing countries, the Manitoba chairman of the Canadian Migration Institute claims the legislation will penalize legitimate firms along with unethical "ghosts."
Manitoba employers may be more reluctant to pay legitimate recruiters if they no longer know the backgrounds of prospective employees, thanks to the firewall being set up between consultants and recruiters, said Manitoba CMI chairman Frank Goldberg, who owns both a consulting firm and a recruitment agency.
The end result, Goldberg claims, will be fewer workers coming to Manitoba at a time when the province has been trumpeting the success of its Provincial Nominee Program, or PNP, which has helped triple the number of immigrants arriving each year over the past decade, to 11,230 in 2008 from 3,702 when the program began in 1999.
In November, the province suspended the employer-application component of the PNP as a prelude to Wednesday's regulation changes. That's already stemmed the flow of workers, claims Goldberg, who runs CdnVISA Consultants.
"I'm in favour of any act that makes it more difficult for unlicensed recruiters to operate. The problem is the implementation: they're throwing the baby out with the bathwater," he said, claiming he and other consultants have been left in limbo. "What am I supposed to do now? They haven't told me. They've only told me what I can't do."
Immigration consultants, licensed in Canada since 2004, help migrants navigate their way through the Canadian immigration bureaucracy. Only nine licensed consultants operate in Manitoba, alongside a handful of lawyers who conduct similar immigration services, Goldberg said.
Recruitment agencies, meanwhile, are supposed to charge employers to find foreign workers. But the province decided to license the recruiters when it found too many foreign workers were in fact paying to find a job, said Nancy Allan, Manitoba's Labour and Immigration minister.
"Some of these recruitment agencies have had the business model where they charge the worker for the privilege of coming here," said Allan.
Some Manitoba employers have recruited up to 40 workers without paying a cent, added Dave Dyson, director of the province's employment standards division. Employers must get used to paying as much for foreign recruitment services as they do for domestic headhunters, he said.
"We're committed to creating a level playing field," he said. "Now, employers will be faced with the true cost of recruitment."