Friday, May 31, 2013

Guest Commentary On The Temporary Foreign Workers Program

We just returned from a visit to our son out West, where the use of temporary foreign workers appears to be ubiquitous. It seemed that every Tim Hortons, every Subway Sandwich, and many hospitality sites were employing temporary workers, many of whom were trainees (which suggests the high turnover rate in these low-paying positions.)

As I said to my son, since things are quite prosperous in Alberta, and restaurants are always well-patronized, even during the week, it would seem incumbent upon those enterprises to pay living wages rather than exploit the loopholes in the program, especially the one that permits wages 15% lower than that paid to Canadians. If that were done, the business claim that they can't find Canadians for the jobs would be exposed for the canard it truly is.

Last year I wrote a post on the subject; this morning Anonymous offered a comment on the program in response that is both succinct and insightful. I am taking the liberty of posting it below:

The temporary foreign worker program is simply a guise to acquire cheap labor at the expense of Canadian citizens.

Let's review the evidence shall we?

1. Bringing in cheap foreign labor erodes competitive labor markets that are needed in order to drive up Canadian worker's wages so that they might enjoy a decent standard of living.

2. Temporary foreign workers are in theory born from neoliberalism capitalist ideology that states and i quote " the only responsibility of businesses is to maximize profits"

3. Temporary foreign worker programs deprive Canadian youth of the transitory jobs that they need in order to transition into higher paying work. People who go months on end being unemployed are almost considered unemployable by business. This sets our youth up for future failure and a society that relies on government handouts for their survival.

4. Temporary foreign worker program deviates from free capitalist ideology and moves into socialistic capitalist theory and essentially props up businesses that should otherwise fail with cheap labor.

5. Temporary foreign workers are abused verbally, emotionally and sometimes put in harms way physically so that inefficient businesses can stay afloat.

6. Temporary foreign worker programs add to the growing socioeconomic inequality that is destroying western industrialized countries by crushing labor sectors.

We could go on and on all day long. Believe the propaganda of business or believe the academics? Who do you truly think has the average Canadian's best interests at heart?

Vote out the conservatives and elect the party that acts on the demands of Canadian citizens.


  1. An excellent summary of the facts -- as opposed to the ideology -- Lorne.

  2. Agreed, Owen. It is amazing how, once the ideology is stripped away, the naked greed and exploitation is obvious for all to see.

  3. I have no issue with the temporary workers program where there is a need. However, it needs to be tweeked a little bit.

    1)Under no circumstances can pay rates be reduced from normal.
    2) Institute a 15% surtax of salary to the corporation to create a training program for Canadians in the industry where this shortage is occurring.

    These two items would resolve the structural issue in both the short and long terms. What it would not do is allow corporations to exploit foreigners in order to pad their bottom line.


    1. Your suggestions make eminent sense, Anon, which likely means they will not be adopted by our current government, at least not in the forseeable futre. ;)

  4. A friend of mine in a little burg not far from mine knows the owner of the local Tim Horton's. They cannot keep reliable local staff, so they have bought a house and hired a bunch of young people from somewhere else (The Phillipines, maybe?) to live in it and serve their coffee.
    If a business cannot keep workers, if workers don't show up for shifts and if workers call in sick en masse, is it possible that they are a)not paying enough, or b)treating their employees poorly? Or maybe both?
    I have no problem at all with people from other countries working here or wanting to come here. This used to be a pretty good place to be. But I am seriously offended if employers in Canada are exploiting them.

    1. And it is the question of exploitation that troubles me the most, Karen. While there may indeed be reasons for using temporary workers, if a lack of reliable domestic staff is attributable to poor wages and working conditions, those need to be addressed first. Then and only then, if the problems persist, he TFWP may be a valid option.