CAW President Condemns Changes to Temporary Foreign Worker Program

April 27, 2012, 12:10 PM EST


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Changes to the temporary foreign worker regulations will only increase abuse and lower conditions for migrant workers, says, CAW President Ken Lewenza. He is responding to the change in regulations which will now allow employers to fast track bringing in skilled temporary foreign workers and pay them up to 15 per cent less than the prevailing wage, effectively paying foreign workers less than Canadian counterparts.

"This government-endorsed, employer-driven program is already rife with exploitation," said Lewenza.  "In its current form, there are few checks and balances in the program, leaving workers with little protection and few avenues to enforce rights afforded to Canadian workers."

Lewenza voiced outrage that changes made by federal Human Resources Minister Diane Finley will only serve to lower conditions for workers right across the board. Under the new rules, employer requests for importing highly skilled workers will be responded to within 10 days, as opposed to the current 12-14 weeks required for a Labour Market Opinion. And the government has indicated that while regulation changes only apply to highly skilled occupations, it could soon expand to other classifications.

The CAW already has temporary foreign workers in some of the workplaces the union represents, including some fish processing plants, resorts and aerospace firms and is familiar with the complex set of problems the program creates, said Lewenza.

The government is grossly exploiting the desperation many migrant workers feel trying to find employment in Canada, said Lewenza.  "The federal government has allowed the corporate agenda to dictate the terms and conditions of our immigration system.  This is not the model of fairness that Canadians support."

"With more than 1.5 million unemployed Canadians, there is no labour shortage in this country. Suggesting that Canada has a labour shortage and that these changes are necessary is dishonest and deceitful."

 As a nation, Canada has a dark history of bringing workers into the country to toil in terrible conditions for paltry wages, said Lewenza. "No government of any political stripe should ever attempt to turn back the clock." 

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