Temporary Foreign Worker Program proposal squashed

Nathan Liewicki
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The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) is asking for an explanation from the provincial government.

“We’re just looking for them to clarify whether or not they made representations to the federal government to eliminate that particular provision that the federal government had intended to produce,” SFL President Larry Hubich said in reference to Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

The Times-Herald contacted the Saskatchewan Ministry of Economy, but they didn’t provide a spokesperson to speak on the matter.

The provision Hubich referred to was found in a proposal the federal Tories made about a year ago. It would prohibit and ban employers found guilty of human trafficking, sexual abuse, or causing death to employees from participating in the TFWP.

On Jan. 1, however, the federal government announced it was dropping the original provision, claiming it was “too rigid and cumbersome.”

“During the holiday season … they quietly released the regulations and the one that specifically referenced the three situations was removed,” said Hubich. “We’re concerned about this.”

Another thing the SFL is concerned about is employers who have a history of mistreating temporary foreign workers.

According to Hubich, there is a registry of employers who have mistreated temporary foreign workers. However, as far as the SFL is aware, “there are zero companies on that list.”

The SFL doesn’t buy it.

Hubich said he doesn’t understand the purpose of the list, which is public and used to identify guilty corporations, when there aren’t any names on it.

“We know, because we’ve seen evidence of some workers not being treated very well by their employers,” said Hubich.

“As we know and everyone knows, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, under its current structure, has enabled some employers to exploit thousands of migrant working people,” said Hubich. “The federal government acknowledged that when they announced they were going to make changes to the program.”

Hubich added the TFWP became something it was never intended to be.

“(It) was a program that the federal government introduced to recruit hard to recruit positions that were highly skilled while we experienced a temporary shortage of eligible candidates to fill that work,” he said.

There are pages of businesses in Saskatchewan that have been granted the ability and the right, under the TFWP, to recruit temporary foreign workers, including some in Moose Jaw.

From Jan. 1, 2009 to May 7, 2013, Best Western, Déjà vu Café, Five Hills Health Region, Holy Trinity Catholic School Division, Mr. Sub and Murray GM fell into this category.

None of them have been red flagged for mistreatment of those workers.

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks


Organizations: The Times-Herald, Saskatchewan Ministry of Economy, Holy Trinity Catholic School Division

Geographic location: Canada, Saskatchewan, Moose Jaw

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