Experienced Canadian helicopter pilots have expressed their concerns about employers hiring cheap temporary foreign workers instead of them, by denying the experienced pilots these jobs. The pilots say that if left unchecked, this trend of hiring cheap temporary foreign workers could spell the death knell for the industry.
Bill Wadsworth is a helicopter pilot in Mayne Island, British Columbia, with about 25 years of experience. He said that he had recently applied for several jobs at various companies in the province. While he was not selected or shortlisted for any of the jobs he applied for, he did come to know that several companies to which he had applied had subsequently sought cheap temporary foreign workers. Ironically, each of the companies to which Mr. Wadsworth applied had mentioned that they had no openings at the time.
In a subsequent interview, Mr. Wadsworth said that he often came across job postings for pilots that offered hourly rates well below the prevailing industry standards. While this would effectively drive down wages in the near future, according to him, this practice of hiring cheap temporary foreign workers instead of experienced Canadian helicopter pilots would eventually lead to the demise of the industry.
Mr. Wadsworth said that this practice showed how Canadian employers were leveraging foreign workers against experienced Canadian pilots. “They’re leveraging the foreign workers against the Canadian pilots, essentially threatening Canadians by saying: ‘We’re paying these guys so little and we’re only going to pay you 10 dollars an hour more. So you either go with the flow here or we’re hiring TFWs and you’re out of work,” he said.
Kirsten Brazier, a helicopter and fixed-wing pilot in Vancouver has encountered similar experiences. She said that employers were increasingly telling Canadian pilots across the country that the Canadian pilots were under-qualified, thereby emphasizing the need to hire cheaper temporary foreign workers. In doing so, these employers were simply exploiting the loopholes in the system and hoodwinking the federal government.
The Canadian Press examined several applications for temporary foreign workers, filed by private helicopter operators from across Canada and found that these hiring companies have expressed their inability to find domestic candidates who possess the required skills.
Ms. Brazier said that the practice of not employing Canadian pilots would damage the industry in the end, as operators would use the program as a justification for disqualifying competent Canadian pilots.
Source: The National Post