Politics & Policies

Canada’s Temporary Foreign Workers Program – Workers left in limbo by moratorium

Thousands of temporary foreign workers already on the job in Canada and in the midst of renewing their work permits are left in limbo by the moratorium on the fast food industry imposed by Federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. Capture d’écran 2014-04-25 à 10.13.18

If the moratorium is not lifted within 90 days, most of these workers will be forced to leave the country in early July, even though their employers were in the process of applying to renew their work permit, Marco Luciano of Edmonton’s Migrante Alberta, an advocacy groups for temporary foreign workers, said Monday.

While Kenney’s abrupt moratorium last week was aimed at stopping employers from bringing in new workers to restaurants, it suspended all applications from employers, including those applying to renew permits of workers already here. All labour market opinions were suspended.

The workers are stranded “without status” — unable to move to other jobs, unable to send money home and facing the possibility they will have to leave the country, Lucianio, adding that the “long list of jobs” includes meat cutters, kitchen help and cooks.

“Workers are not having their contracts renewed and they are risking their life savings,” said Luciano.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Temporary foreign workers left in limbo by moratorium.

Foreign workers in Canada fear backlash

Bugan Wigan could handle the hard work packing fruit and cleaning hotel rooms, and the crushing debt she owed recruiters who found her jobs. But a backlash against the foreign worker programmeme that brought her to Canada means the clock is ticking on her ability to support her family in the Philippines.

“I’m here six years, away from my family. I was hoping I could bring them here. But now, we are just counting our days,” said Wigan, 40, who currently works at McDonald’s in Vancouver.

She is one of about 400,000 people who came to Canada under the government’s temporary foreign worker programmeme, which is designed to fill jobs for which there are no qualified Canadian candidates. The programmeme has been hugely popular with employers, ballooning from 100,000 workers in 2002.

But the backlash against it has also grown as the programmeme, initially designed to help the booming resource industry, has expanded to lower-skilled jobs, especially at restaurant chains such as McDonald’s Corp and Tim Hortons Inc

Last week, the Conservative government slapped a moratorium on the food service industry hiring temporary foreign workers after media reports said that some restaurants had turned away qualified Canadians in favor of using foreigners to fill job openings.

Employment Minister Jason Kenney has acknowledged some abuses of the system and last year began tightening up the rules for employers to participate in the programme. He has promised more changes.

Caught in the middle are workers like Wigan, who harbored dreams of using the programme as a springboard to permanent residency. While the programme is explicitly designed to be temporary, some workers have been able to use provisions that allow for longer stays. Those loopholes appear to be closing as the government moves to contain the backlash against the hiring of temporary foreign workers.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Foreign workers in Canada fear backlash | Oman Observer.

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