…While the program was designed to help fill labour shortages in rural communities, information technology specialist Rohana Rezel found that most companies that employed temporary foreign workers in British Columbia and Alberta were in urban centres.
Rezel used government data to create a website, which shows thousands of companies in both provinces that successfully applied to the program up until 2012.
“I find it a little bit shocking to be honest,” he told CTV News. “It’s not meant to be a long-term fix for businesses.”
Meanwhile, on the other side, employers and their pressure groups have made increasingly forceful claims that workers exist solely to be used by their employers – and that any worker’s desire for more is a problem to be solved by force, rather than a sign of progress.
The first prominent example of that mindset arose when the president and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), Dan Kelly, was asked to justify the use of temporary foreign workers to do work that could obviously be done by Canadians. Kelly answered that employers might generally prefer the work ethic of temporary foreign workers to that of Canadians. But in case that was taken as insulting to Canadian workers, he also argued we should consider work in restaurants and hotels to be beneath us in any event.
Kelly thus acknowledged that the exploding temporary foreign worker program has little to with labour shortages. Instead, it arises out of a gap between the expectation of Canadian workers to be treated with some respect and dignity, and the refusal of employers to offer anything of the sort.
As far as the CFIB is concerned, the government’s job when faced with that contrast is to provide a more desperate set of workers in order to maximize employers’ profits – rather than letting market forces determine whether the employers are willing to offer acceptable pay and working conditions. Kelly may have been less than fully explicit in drawing a dividing line between Canadian employment standards and the lesser ones applied under the temporary foreign worker program. But a recruiter advising employers in handling temporary foreign workers made it abundantly clear that some employers consider “Canadian” to be a dirty word.