OTTAWA ― The president of the Canadian Labour Congress acknowledges changes that the Conservative government has made to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) but says those changes highlight the consequences of the government’s failure to properly consult and listen to stakeholders when developing policy and legislation in the first place.
Ken Georgetti was responding to an announcement made on April 29. “First with Employment Insurance and now with the TFWP, this government has had to back peddle to fix problems they’ve created because they have failed to listen to the warnings of those with experience and expertise on these issues,” Georgetti says.
Georgetti says, “We met with the government about the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in 2012 and warned them that it was open to abuse. At the time they accused us of fear mongering but now they are making some of the changes that we suggested.”
Georgetti is pleased with the government’s promise to end the practice of paying migrant workers less than other workers. “We see that the government and even the Bank of Canada Governor have realized, as we warned, that this policy was having the effect of driving down wages overall.”
Georgetti also says he is pleased that employers will now have to pay for the cost of processing applications when migrant workers are recruited under the TFWP. Previously, the government absorbed the cost of that fee.
The CLC president warns, however, that monitoring and enforcement will be key to making the announced changes work. “Much of of what the government is now proposing is already on the books but is not being enforced. They promise to make employers shape up but they have said that before without doing it. If we don’t see real and effective monitoring and enforcement, the changes being proposed will not improve upon the existing situation.”
Georgetti adds, “When there are demonstrated shortages of workers, we want to ensure that migrant workers who come to Canada are protected on the job and welcomed into the community. They should be placed into the permanent immigration stream, not exploited in temporary migration schemes.”
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: www.canadianlabour.ca Follow us on Twitter @CanadianLabour