Earlier this week an investigation by CBC Regina’s iTeam told the troubling story of Brothers Classic Grill in Weyburn. They fired their entire staff and replaced them with temporary foreign workers.
Caught in the fire was Sandy Nelson, who had worked at the restaurant for 28 years and Shaunna Jennison-Yung, a 14 year employee. The story quickly went viral and within hours Employment Minister Jason Kenney said that the Brothers Classic Grill’s application to bring in temporary foreign workers would be investigated.
Clearly Brothers is going to be in hotwater for taking advantage of a program which is available for businesses who can not find Canadian employees to fill positions. They can’t take Canadian’s jobs.
The situation, though, has created an interesting conversation. Beyond hopefully clearing up the misuses of the temporary workers program, this story points to the dilemma we know we have in our province and in Canada. There are many jobs that just aren’t being filled.
We see foreign workers everyday — many of them friendly, hardworking and needed. If you like your service quick, at any number of restaurants, you are probably thankful for those filling the empty positions. The CBC story points to what is hopefully an isolated incident, but it created backlash against the foreign workers who are willing to make the sacrifices many are not.
A big part of the reason Canadians aren’t filling these positions is not a lack of Canadian workers but a lack of Canadians wanting certain jobs.
Our country is producing educated young people, but the jobs they want and are trained for are not available. The positions that are available are mainly in the service industry, are preceived to not pay well and through the eyes of some Canadians are jobs without a future.
The fact is a systematic shift will have to take place for many young Canadians to have a future. The service industry will have to become the new middle class. Like factory work shifted from lower echelon jobs in the mid 20th century to the unionized middle class jobs, the same thing will need to happen with the service industry.
For that to happen Canadians will have to realize the service industry is their future and begin pushing for better wages.
However, until that happens, hard working foreign workers will fill the void.
All Times-Herald editorials are written by the editorial staff.