The Employment Minister Jason Kenney suspended Canada’s Fast food sector from the Temporary Worker Program in the wake of program abuse allegations by several McDonald’s outlets and a pizza restaurant in Saskatchewan. This also means that any pending applications from the food services sector will remain in limbo.
While there has been widespread criticism from all quarters over the Temporary Foreign Worker Program – based on anecdotal evidence, statistical proof and national perception, the latest incidents of program abuse forced the indefatigable minister to step in and take some remedial action.
Kenney has faced a tough few weeks battling revelations about small businesses, which continually displace Canadian workers with temporary foreign workers willing to work regardless of the hours, holidays or the conditions. Ironically, the Conservatives have championed the cause of these small businesses that continue to flout the rules.
While incidents of program abuse have yielded sufficient anecdotal evidence that have shaped public perception about the Program, studies by academic institutes have queered the pitch further by providing statistical evidence that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program has raised unemployment levels.
The non-partisan CD Howe Institute established that the Program raised unemployment levels in Alberta and British Columbia – two Conservative strongholds. Similarly, Dominique M Gross of Simon Fraser University analysed the period from 2007 to 2010, when the Conservative Government eased the requirements and expedited the process of hiring temporary workers in two provinces because of a reported labour shortage in western Canada.
She found that there was little evidence of shortages in several of the fast-tracked low-skilled occupations. In addition, she also found that the influx of foreign workers contributed to an increase of a cumulative 3.9 percentage points to the unemployment rates. This led her to conclude that placing a cap on the number of temporary foreign workers entering the country annually could help buck the trend.
The Program, which had merits on paper, is clearing without adequate safeguards to prevent employers from abusing it. Thus, even as employers fill jobs with foreign workers, they continue to deny Canadians jobs in their region or even the right to migrate to jobs that they want. Similarly, Canadian employers also find themselves undercut by competitors using temporary foreign workers.
This situation would continue to be the norm unless Kenney can revamp the abused Program and provide proper safeguards to protect the rights of all Canadians – employers and workers.
Source: The Toronto Star