Temporary Foreign Worker program must be ended in a manner that respects the rights of workers
EDMONTON – The moratorium on Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) in the food service sector is a first step towards ending the program, but something needs to be done to help TFWs who are already in the country.
These workers are just as much victims of bad public policy as the Canadians who have been displaced by the program.
“The Harper government’s Temporary Foreign Worker program is a train wreck. It should be scrapped and the government should go back to the drawing board,” Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said.
“But thousands and thousands of foreign workers now face the prospect of deportation. Today, we want to present the government with a modest proposal: close off all low-wage streams of the TFW program going forward, and let the workers who are in Canada already stay — but let them stay as permanent residents and citizens as opposed to disposable, exploitable guest workers.”
Closing the low-wage stream of the TFW program will protect Canadian jobs and granting permanent residency to foreign workers already here will uphold Canadian values.
At a press conference on Thursday, McGowan and migrant workers advocacy group Migrante executive director Marco Luciano were joined by former Temporary Foreign Worker Junniflor Magno to discuss the abuses of the Temporary Foreign Worker program.
“This program morally diminishes us as a country by creating a disenfranchised underclass of guest workers,” McGowan said. “The TFW program distorts and degrades the labour market, it puts foreign workers in precarious positions. In the process, it displaces Canadians from jobs and drives down wages for all of us.”
Temporary Foreign Workers don’t have the same rights as Canadian workers because they are here at the pleasure of their employer. Their right to work here is tied to the employer’s Labour Market Opinion and to the work permit that the government issued. The basic problem faced by Temporary Foreign Workers is they don’t have mobility rights. And more importantly, the federal government immigration programs do not allow TFWs in the low-skilled (and some of the skilled) jobs to apply for immigration – at all.
“A worker under the TFW program cannot quit if they don’t get that raise they were promised, but a Canadian worker can,” McGowan said. “Every worker in Canada should have the right to sing that old song: “take this job and shove it.” If they do, only good employers who play by the rules can keep staff and stay in business.”
Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.289.6528 (cell)
or via e-mail [email protected]