Wednesday, April 23, 2014

More On The Temporary Foreign Workers Program

As noted yesterday, the Temporary Foreign Workers Program continues to cause both grief and outrage among Canadians. The latest publicly-identified victims, two former employees at a Weyburn Sask. eatery called Brothers Classic Grill and Pizza [previously called El Rancho], are receiving a groundswell of support both locally and across the country.

In an update on their website, CBC Saskatchewan, we learn that Sandy Nelson, a 28-year veteran waitress at the restaurant who lost her job to foreign workers, had tried to bring attention to her plight earlier:

"We tried going [the] government route. Never got a response," Nelson said. "Finally got a response today." That is, after the injustice became public.

Among those who are considered part of the Harper base, this comment was typical:

"I don't think that's fair," Weyburn resident Kyla Broomfield said. "We go there all the time and they treat customers well. I don't know why they would fire them."

"Why should they give foreigners more opportunities?" Jeremiah Broomfield said. "There's willing Canadians here to work. It's just not fair."

One can only assume that had this situation not been made public, Jason Kenney would not now be investigating it.

In today's Star, Tim Harper offers his assessment of the TFWP. Laying the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Harper regime, under whose auspices these abuses have proliferated, he says:

The Conservatives have now done what seems to be the impossible — cutting hours for Canadian workers, setting the stage for the ill-treatment of temporary workers, further alienating the labour movement in this country and fielding complaints from small businesses who play by the rules who say those rules are too onerous.

Harper suggests strong action is needed: the program either needs a complete overhaul, with caps put on the number of temporary workers in this country, or it should be scrapped and replaced with new immigration rules.

He adds that Jason Kenney has to start imposing real penalties, not suspensions. Without that, the abuses will continue and the program’s credibility will continue to crumble.

Ultimately, I guess it requires a careful cost benefit analysis by a government that has consistently shown itself to be so contemptuous of average Canadians and so subservient to the demands of business. Indeed, whose vote is most likely to be lost here?


  1. A few comments, Lorne:

    (1) The people of Sask. voted overwhelmingly for the Cons. If these people did not vote for Harper, then they deserve our sympathies. However, if they did, then they do not deserve our sympathies but only got the government they voted for,

    (2) sad that these people should play the "we are Canadians and they are foreigners and we deserve to be first in line, not them" card.

    Many of these TFWs are here only because of the dire economic situations in their own homelands. In Canada, these TFWs are being exploited (being paid less than minimum wages in some cases, or forced to endure harsh working/ living conditions).

    These people should lay the blame on the Harper government that accelerated (the TFWs program apparently started under the Libs) the importation of TFWs while misleading the public that they had fixed the mistakes after the complaints arose in the RBC case more than a year ago (where tech workers had to train their own replacements from India).

    Finally, isn't it sad that Canadians are now fighting for these Mc-Jobs that used to go to foreign workers because very few Canadians wanted them? For this, we should thank Harper, our "trained" Economist who apparently measures the number of jobs his government creates from help wanted ads in Kijiji. :)

    1. As your comments indicate, Anon, there is much to consider in this very contentious situation that the Harper regime seems to have encouraged. One of the aspects that bother me the most is the ongoing smear being conducted by groups like the Canadian Federation of Independent Business when they contend that Canadian workers just don't meet the measure, being unreliable, lazy, etc.

      I was listening to a noon CBC radio phone-in show earlier today, and a spokesman for the CFIB was repeatedly spouting that justification for the TFWP; left unaddressed was how such programs allow employers to get away with less than the labour market demands.