02/04/2015 12:06 EST

Some Alberta Temporary Foreign Workers To Get Reprieve

Roberto Machado Noa via Getty Images
TORONTO, CANADA - 2014/04/16: Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Multiculturalism. Scenes of the State Funeral for Jim Flaherty, former Minister of Finace of Canada, held at St. James Cathedral in Toronto. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The federal government is allowing some temporary foreign workers in Alberta more time in the province before their work permits end.

In a letter to MPs, Employment Minister Jason Kenney said repreive will be offered to some Alberta workers in the Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) program, granting them a one-year extension to their permits, before they expire.

However, the one-time exemption means those eligible will have to meet strict criteria.

Only workers who applied to the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program by July 1 last year, and who hold a work permit that expires in 2015, are eligible for the extension.

“So this is a little tweak to assist people who, in most cases, are probably going to get permanent residency anyway. It just allows them to stay in Canada until that decision is made,” Kenney told CTV News.

According to CBC News, there are 10,000 workers in Alberta currently on a residency waiting list.

The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) says the federal government has given in to pressure from low-wage employers, whose interest is holding on to "exploitable" temporary foreign workers for as long as possible.

"Last June, the Harper government promised to limit the number of TFWs that low-wage employers could use. But now, they’ve quietly broken their promise and changed the rules," AFL president Gil McGowan said in a news release Tuesday.

McGowan said this new plan is “cynical, sneaky and mean-spirited,” and that the Harper government has tried to dress it up as an act of kindness to the thousands of TFWs who face the prospect of deportation as soon as April 1.

“The sad truth is that most of the low-skill TFWs in question will never qualify for permanent residency under the federal government’s Express Entry program because it has a point system that gives preference to workers with high skills and high levels of education,” McGowan said.

Kenney says Ottawa is willing to extend to other provinces the measures it has given Alberta.

"If other provinces have a similar circumstance where they have a backlog in their immigration program and they have a similar concern, we're willing to extend the same policy to them in principle," said to reporters after Question Period Tuesday.

Read Kenney's letter to MPs, outlining the changes:

TFW Update From Minister Kenney 01-27-15 Msg-2

(With files from the Canadian Press)


Photo gallery Largest Canadian Employers Using Temporary Foreign Workers (2013) See Gallery