NDP says new rules for Temporary Foreign Worker Program won’t curb abuses

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

"Cosmetic."

That's what the NDP are calling the Harper government's latest changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), announced Wednesday.

The new rules — effective July 31 — will essentially require applicant companies to double the length and reach of their advertising efforts for Canadian employees before they can seek foreigners.

They will also be restricted to identifying only English and French as a job requirement except in rare circumstances.

Moreover, employers seeking foreign workers will have to pay $275 per application which pays for the processing cost of a federal Labour Market Opinion (LMO).

The changes are in response to a public outcry about the program after revelations of abuses were publicized.

Last year, it was learned that a mining company in B.C. planned to import 200 Chinese miners. And in April, a CBC story revealed that Royal Bank employees were being forced to train foreign workers who were set to replace them oversees.

[ Related: Canada growing dependent on temporary foreign workers, experts fear ]

In an interview with Yahoo! Canada News, NDP Immigration critic Jinny Sims, says the new rules won't curb abuses to the system.

"I don't see anything in the announcements today that would actually give parliamentary oversight or monitoring or enforcement...to ensure people play by the rules," she said.

"Why don't we have a system whereby if a company abuses [the system] they no longer get LMOs. And why don't we have inspectors who actually check to make sure the advertising that happens is absolutely real?"

Sims adds that the TFWP also needs to be coupled with a real skills training development program developed in conjunction with the provinces.

"[The NDP's] position has always been 'jobs for Canadians first.' Those who live in Canada should get first access to jobs," she said.

"Then if we have a skills shortage in a certain area, while we are training [Canadians], we have temporary foreign workers. If there's no training program then how is that work temporary?"

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The Conservatives do say that some of the changes that Sims is advocating for are on the horizon.

"Further changes are under development as part of the ongoing reform of the TFWP," notes their statement.

"These include increasing the Government’s authority to revoke work permits and suspend, revoke and refuse to process LMOs, and ensuring employers who rely on temporary foreign workers have a firm plan in place to transition to a Canadian workforce."

According to Social Development and Employment figures, 202,510 temporary foreign workers entered the country in 2012.

(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)

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