Mayor Naheed Nenshi feels a growing Calgary needs more access to working migrants who can become citizens. He is therefore ripping both the temporary foreign worker program and the Harper government’s changes to it.
The “current system strips people of their dignity,” said the mayor. His comments mirror Alberta government officials’ protests that Ottawa’s recently announced restrictions on hiring temporary workers, especially in low-paying jobs, will hurt the city that hired a record 38,508 this year.
“I think that the changes that have been announced by the federal government are not particularly responsive to the needs of Alberta in general and Calgary in particular,” Nenshi said on Tuesday. “We need migration in order for our system to work.”
Nenshi, whose parents emigrated from Tanzania in the 1970s, did not propose any alternative solutions to the temporary foreign worker program. But he noted that the status quo is unfair to people working at Tim Hortons and in other service jobs.
“To treat people like commodities that come here for two years and serve us our coffee in the mornings, I don’t think is a particularly Canadian attribute,” Nenshi said.
“And I think we have to figure out ways to let people in and give them a path to citizenship and continue to live dignified lives, regardless of the job they do.”
Employment Minister Jason Kenney has claimed that several businesses are overusing the temporary worker program in ways that distorts the labour market, keeping the wages down.
In parts of Alberta with low unemployment, companies will still be able to hire low-wage workers, but they can only be up to one-tenth of a firm’s total staff.
Alberta’s government is not happy with the changes. They say these will hamper an economy already facing labour shortages. Alberta’s three Progressive Conservative leadership candidates have also criticized the federal reforms.
Source: Calgary Herald