Wednesday, April 10, 2013

OTTAWA ― The Canadian Labour Congress will make an Access to Information request for all documents related to the federal government's compliance with a 2009 Auditor General’s report regarding the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

“The Conservative government is allowing employers to abuse the TFWP to the detriment of both migrant and Canadian workers,” says Ken Georgetti, CLC president. “The Auditor General reviewed the program in 2009 and requested a thorough evaluation of it. The government promised to do that with results to be released in 2010-11 but that has not happened. We want to see all the documentation about what government departments have done to comply with the Auditor General’s recommendations.”

The TFWP was originally designed to import temporary workers in those cases where real and proven labour shortages existed. But the number of temporary foreign workers in Canada has risen from 101,000 in 2002 to 338,000 in 2012. Between 2007 and 2011, 30% of all net new jobs went to migrant workers. The Conservative government made it far easier to import workers by reducing the employers’ advertising requirement from six weeks to 14 days. In the federal budget of 2012, the government made it possible for employers to pay migrant workers up to 15% less than prevailing wage rates.

“The government is using the TFWP for purposes it was never intended to serve,” says Georgetti. “Changes made to the program since 2007 have actually opened it up to further abuse. We want to see the paper trail and that is why we will file an Access to Information request.”

The Immigration department created a website that promised to provide the names of employers who have failed to provide the promised jobs, wages and working conditions as set out in their job offers to workers under the TFWP. There are no employers listed on that website even though many cases of employers abusing the program have been raised by unions and the media:

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.3 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada’s national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 130 district labour councils. Web site:  Follow us on Twitter @CanadianLabour