Scrap Temporary Foreign Workers Program

The general counsel for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union thinks Ottawa should scrap the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, and instead focus on immigration policies that transition workers into permanent residency.

Naveen Mehta accuses the Harper government of ignoring abuse of the program.

“It’s an epidemic,” he says. “We had prepared a book called ‘The Migrant Worker Book of Abuse.’ We had it delivered to then Minister (Kerri-Lynn) Findlay’s office. We’ve had it delivered to Minister (Jason) Kenney’s office. And there were probably about 300 to 400 different cases. We were never contacted by anyone in the federal government.”

Mehta says moratoriums only leave workers in limbo having exhausted life savings to get to Canada, and penalties for companies that take advantage of the workers are almost non-existent.

“In 2011, they set up this black list,” he says. “Up until just before the McDonalds issues there was no one on that list. And right now on that list, as I checked just three days ago, there’s only three names out of the thousands of employers that use temporary foreign workers in Canada.”

Currently, the Harper government is considering higher fees for companies that use the program, barring employers from using it in areas of high unemployment, and a so-called wage floor for foreign workers. Mehta calls those bandaid solutions that won’t address the problems that plague the system.