Monday, April 30, 2012

The Harper Perversion Of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program

In what looks like yet another invitation by the Harper regime to corporate thievery in Canada, Human Resources Minister Diane Finley last week announced that employers will now be able to pay temporary migrant workers less than would be paid to Canadians doing the same job.

What is especially alarming about this, beyond the obvious exploitation of foreign workers, is how migrant labour is being defined these days. As reported by The Star's Thomas Walkom,

The temporary foreign workers program began as a stop-gap measure in 2000, specifically to deal with a shortage of software specialists. But under pressure from employers — particularly in the Alberta oil patch — it has vastly expanded.

By 2011, there were some 300,111 temporary foreign workers of all kinds in Canada — 106,849 of them in Ontario.

He goes on to discuss how these workers are now doing a variety of jobs ranging from serving coffee to working in Maritime fish-processing plants, and of course, in Alberta's oil fields. Coupled with the latest changes in the rules governing Employment Insurance, the implications are worrying. Walkom writes:

[Jason]Kenney has warned that unemployed workers who refuse to take low-wage jobs will have their EI benefits cut off. If Canadians agree to work for less, he explains, Ottawa won’t have to bring in as many low-wage outsiders.

If the great Canadian slumber continues, watch for more regressive legislation from this 'Prime Minister.'

UPDATE: Here is a sector that appears to heartily approve of this downward pressure on wages.


  1. This is a disgrace. It's been pretty obvious that Harper hates unionized labour but this 15% foreign worker rule couples with the new EI conditions is a real blow to a healthy, vibrant middle class.

  2. 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. This is an excellent summation of the program's myriad deficiencies, Anon. I just came back from the west, where these things were quite apparent. I am going to take the liberty of posting your analysis as a guest blog entry. Many thanks for your insights!