Ask your Local – Canadian jobs and temporary foreign workers

Q: I read that there is a policy called foreign-worker policy that was created by the federal government and that employs as many as 300,000 temporary foreign workers in Canadian jobs at lower pay than normally given and without benefits or hope of permanent residency or access to Canada’s labour laws. Is that true? Is it legally allowed and are foreign workers being abused and Canadian jobs being lost?

A: Temporary Foreign Worker Program

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) enables employers to hire foreign workers on a temporary basis to fill immediate skills and labour shortages, when Canadian citizens and permanent residents are not available to do the job.

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC)/Service Canada is responsible for assessing applications from employers requesting to hire temporary foreign workers (TFW), and issues a labour market opinion (LMO) on the likely impact these TFWs would have on the Canadian job market.

This is not a policy that I have studied in great depth so what I say next is based on reports that I’ve read and media stories. Media and other reports state that 300,000 temporary foreign workers are in Canada in a variety of jobs although I hear that fast food chains are a big employer.

There is a court case in BC that involves 300 Canadian workers denied the right to apply for a job in a mine because (allegedly) they didn’t speak Mandarin.

The likelihood of abuse can be high when labour laws do not apply and when workers are so vulnerable – but that is my opinion. Also – my opinion – bringing people here to work with no hope of permanent residency, much lower salaries and little if any labour law protection has the appearance of unfair and unjust labour practice and I question the reasoning behind it. Is it purely for profit and to take advantage of the disadvantaged? For some, there is never enough profit.

It is difficult to understand why Canadian banks need temporary foreign workers for jobs here in Canada.

One of the intents of the temporary foreign worker policy was (in particular) to provide experienced agricultural seasonal workers. I have read media reports that say that the Canadian government is reviewing the policy and policy users for abuse of the intent – and I hope that it is indeed the case.

Globalization and outsourcing of work is done for one reason and one reason only – higher profits. These big companies that move their workforce to countries where labour laws are scarce and salaries are almost non-existent don’t do it because they cannot afford Canadian labour – they do it for greed.

We (as a labour force) have to work very hard to protect our right to reasonable salaries, benefits (because we need dental care and prescriptions) and a pension when we retire. We work hard to make someone else rich for most of our lives. We should be able to comfortably afford food and shelter in our “golden” years. Right now, the people who need the Old Age Security desperately in order to retire have to wait an extra two years and for labourers or trade people that can be a tough two years. They have worked really, really hard at jobs that are physically exhausting – that two extra years may spell serious hardship.

That’s my belief and opinion and, as Canadians, I hope we refuse to settle for less and we protest the actions of a greedy few. We can protest simply by writing to the newspapers and to our MP’s and MPP’s – let them know how you feel because it matters.

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