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B.C. Fed welcomes government review

By Contributor
November 9th, 2012

The B.C. Federation of Labour welcomed the decision by the federal government to expand the review of the Temporary Foreign Workers program from the specific case of mining workers in northeast British Columbia to include a review of the entire national program, but called for the review to be open and transparent for all Canadians to be involved.

“This program is seriously flawed and is open to wide-spread abuse,” said Federation President Jim Sinclair.

“The government was forced to lift the curtain on one case involving temporary foreign workers and found that our concerns about the entire program were obviously justified.”

The Federation of Labour called for a review after it was uncovered that miners from China were being charged upwards of $12,000 to come to Canada for work.

It was also revealed that the company, HD Mining advertised jobs with a requirement that Mandarin be spoken. Despite getting more than 300 Canadian applicants, the company claimed that there were no suitable applicants from Canada.

The Federation has long opposed the Temporary Foreign Program, because the program drives down wages and severely limits the rights of workers entering Canada.

“This program is not about immigration and nation building, but rather about exploiting workers who have almost no rights because they are temporary and can be sent home on a moment’s notice,” said Sinclair.

“Workers come here, they are filling full time permanent jobs, they can stay up to four years, yet they do not have the right to raise families, complain about safety concerns or simply change jobs if it is unsafe or abusive.”

“This program has not been about solving labour shortages; it’s been more about entrenching low wages.”

Sinclair noted the review comes at an important time as some employers are claiming that it is ok to hire workers and pay them the same wages as they might have received in their country of origin. As well, the federal government recently introduced policy deeming it possible for employers to pay some foreign workers 15 percent less than their Canadian counterparts.

“We know that over the long run with expected retirements and slowing birthrates, our workforce requires continued reliance on immigration,” said Sinclair.

“But let’s invest in real immigration programs that allow prospective citizens the same rights as all Canadian workers. It’s how we built Canada and how we should continue to build Canada.”

Details of the review are not known but the Federation is calling for a fully transparent review by a third party that is not under government control. Canadians deserve a full explanation.

Today more than 70,000 temporary foreign workers are residing in BC.

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