Employers and worker advocates in Saskatchewan continue to battle over the role of the temporary foreign worker program in the province.
For several years now Saskatchewan has undergone massive economic growth but its workforce has not kept pace with the growth, leaving employers scrambling to find the labour they need.
For many employers, the temporary foreign worker program has become the best solution to deal with their labour needs. However, the program has been plagued with controversy over a variety of issues ranging from driving down wages to worker exploitation to companies becoming too reliant upon foreign workers at the cost of employment to Canadians.
This month major leaders on both sides of the debate expressed their frustration at the current state of affairs after Saskatchewan Federation of Labour leader Larry Hubich publicly critiqued the program for its emphasis on short-term solutions to solve long-term challenges.
On the other hand, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall argues that the program does address long-term needs, particularly through the Provincial Nominee Program wherein employers can nominate temporary workers for fast-track immigration.
“[A]lmost 60 per cent of temporary foreign workers become part of the immigrant nominee program and become residents,” said Wall, acknowledging that there is room for improvement but that it is up to the federal government to help cooperate. “We’d like to see that number improve. We’d like to see the number of nominees we’re getting from the federal government increase.”
The program faced increased scrutiny after an investigation revealed that over the past five years hundreds of employers in Saskatchewan have requested temporary foreign workers.
Source: Saskatoon Star-Phoenix