Foreign Workers Program is out of control
A bit of justice, please!
The Conservative government finally woke up to the injustice of their temporary foreign worker program.
Canada has been allowing temporary foreign workers into the country since 2002, mostly from poor countries to work here at 15 % less than the minimum wage Canadian workers are paid.
The federal program began with good intentions -- to help our farmers with their crops. It was not easy to find good Canadian farm help willing to work for minimum wage picking potatoes all day in the hot sun.
Foreigners were happy to do that at 10 times an hour what they would have earned back home.
But that’s how the trouble started. Soon it was not just agricultural workers coming over. We brought workers from Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East to work at reduced rates in fast food, construction, manufacturing, mining and almost everything else.
Today there are 400,000 foreigners in Canada who working here for up to four years at a time. And you call that “temporary?”
The Conservative government dismisses criticism by saying they only make up 2% of total workers in Canada. That's true, but two percent of 20 million workers is 400,000 workers! That’s the population of an entire fair-sized city in Canada.
What often happens on the worksite is that Canadian workers are told by their boss to hustle a little more, because there’s a foreigner outside the door waiting to take his place.
The working hours for foreign works are long and hard. Talk about starting work in an all-night fast food at 2 a.m. and working until 10 a.m., and then cleaning the bathrooms before heading home to the family.
The foreigners are everywhere, not just in the fields and restaurants. An estimated 80 % of the meat from Alberta slaughterhouses is prepared by foreign workers, especially from Asia.
Inspectors discovered a Chinese-owned mine in British Columbia where the bosses and the foremen were all Chinese, so the mine workers had to speak Chinese. So guess where they came from.
It was discovered last year that in Toronto the RBC Bank was training workers from India as internet technicians to take the place of Canadians.
In Alberta, Imperial Oil brought in workers from Croatia who were pleased to get a Canadian salary.
Foreign workers seldom complain about being paid lower salaries. And they tend to be more docile when asked to do extra work.
Join a union? What! Are you kidding?
But this week, with elections coming up soon, the Harper government, decided it was time to act, no matter if employers do complain about losing the «cheap labor " they’ve been getting.
Employment Minister Jason Kenney declared a moratorium on future hiring temporary foreign workers in the fast food industry. In everything else, nothing changes.
Three MacDonald’s restaurants in Victoria, BC, another in Weyburn, Sask., are under investigation to establish whether they sacked Canadians employees to hire foreign workers.
Three restaurants is barely a handful of workers at each site, but it shows that even the Conservatives, who were on board with the bosses, realize that something is wrong.
Kenney said it was "very preoccupying." It's the least he could say. We'll see how far the Harper government is prepared to go.