New website maps ‘Temporary Foreign Worker’ businesses in B.C. and Alberta

Matthew Coutts
Daily Brew
Screencap of NTFW.ca, an interactive map identifying companies employing temporary foreign workers.

If the Temporary Foreign Worker's debate is getting too complicated for you, there's a new website trying to help sort things out – by mapping every company in Alberta and British Columbia that has used the embattled employment program.

More than 1,000 companies have been pegged to an online map available at NTFW.ca - a site operating with the slogan, "Support Canadian businesses employing Canadian workers."

The site has taken data about Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program in B.C. and Alberta during 2012, which available through the federal Human Resources and Skills Development ministry.

That data has been placed on a map and can be sorted by category, location and other factors. The few companies outed as “abusers” of the program have been marked with a red pin, while any other company that used the program, properly or improperly, is marked with a yellow pin.

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While only two provinces are currently included on the map, they are the two provinces which most vociferously employed the TFW program. According to the Canadian Press, most of the businesses that were approved for the TFW program were located in the urban areas of Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.

Indeed, of the 511 businesses that employed temporary foreign workers, 107 were restaurants and bars. In Calgary, they attributed for 299 of the 718 authorized businesses.

After damning reports about abuse of the program in fast food restaurants, the federal government suspended the industry from the system. It later announced that it would review the program entirely.

That hasn't stopped the troubles from coming, unfortunately. The Conservative Party has been forced to defend the program, even as negative headlines stack up. The Liberal Party of Canada has jumped on the issue, outlining its own strategy for fixing the program.

On Thursday, the Canadian Press reported that Conservative MP Rob Merrifield wrote in a 2009 letter that restaurant owners had complained about the amount they were forced to pay to temporary foreign workers.

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It's fairly obvious the website has an agenda – this isn't a database compiled out of charity.

A list of "bad guys" is available that includes lists of "offenders" separated into three categories: Banks and Credit Unions, British Columbia, and Alberta - Calgary. There's also a list of "good guys," which appear to be companies the site has confirmed don't use temporary foreign workers.

Let's be honest. This website, which has apparently gone "viral" for whatever that is worth, is an avenue with which to drive home a point that has already been made.

It is a "name and shame" effort to out companies and banks that have used the program for better or worse. Not every company that used the TFW program was a "bad guy." The program existed to help companies fill vacancies for which acceptable Canadian applicants couldn't be found.

It is a flawed and broken system, susceptible for abuse. We know that now, and efforts are being made to fix it.

This site is unnecessary – the vestigial tail of the Temporary Foreign Workers debate – which does more to harness rage and not much to find a solution.

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