News that a consortium of mostly Chinese companies will seek permission to use exclusively Chinese labour for underground work in four proposed B.C. coal mines has blown the lid off a simmering debate over the dramatic increase in the use of Canada’s temporary foreign worker program.
The Harper government, which only last spring announced measures to boost the already record-high use of TFWs, has announced a program review in light of the public backlash and court challenges over the Chinese mine plan.
The controversy has put a spotlight on a program which employs workers in occupations ranging from the skilled trades and domestic and farm workers to nursing, the fast-food industry and the ski business.
Proponents argue the program, which is hugely popular with many Canadian and particularly B.C. employers, helps Canada fill a critical labour shortage. They say the program doesn’t hurt Canadian workers because employers are supposed to prove the workers can’t be found in Canada and that newcomers are paid a competitive wage.
But critics say TFWs are vulnerable to exploitation, have little to no recourse if they are mistreated by their employers and, according to economists on both sides of the political spectrum, their presence depresses wages and job opportunities for Canadians.
And while Canada hasn’t yet experienced the critical problem facing the U.S. and Europe – of “temporary” workers who go underground rather than return when their permits expire – some experts warn of a ticking time bomb in April of 2015…
Choosen excerpts by JMM from