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July 16, 2014 - No. 68

Scrap the Temporary Foreign Worker Program!

Rally at Jason Kenney's Office Demands
Rights and Status for All!

Calgary, June 19, 2014

Scrap the Temporary Foreign Worker Program!
Rally at Jason Kenney's Office Demands Rights and Status for All!
End the Temporary Foreign Worker Program Now! - Peggy Morton
Neo-liberal Globalization and International Mobility Programs

For Your Information
Changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program Announced on June 20

Note to Our Readers


Scrap the Temporary Foreign Worker Program!

Rally at Jason Kenney's Office Demands
Rights and Status for All!

Calgary






Montreal


Toronto

 

Temporary foreign workers and their allies held a spirited picket at the Calgary office of Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development, on June 19. Close to 80 people participated in the militant action organized by Migrante Alberta, one of several protests held across Canada on June 19. A packed bus came from Edmonton with temporary foreign workers and their allies. Calgary activists including many from unions, Calgarians Against the Harper Dictatorship, and Social Workers for Social Justice were there to greet the bus and together everyone marched to Kenney's office, shouting slogans demanding, "Immigration not Deportation!"; "Equal Rights," and demanding that the temporary foreign workers program be scrapped, and permanent residency granted to TFWs now working in Canada. Repeatedly during the action, calls rang out that Harper and Kenney have to go.

A petition demanding that temporary foreign workers now working in Canada should be given permanent residency status was delivered to Jason Kenney's office. Speakers explained the precarious situation faced by temporary foreign workers and the effects of the moratorium in the food services sector, still in effect at that time. Speakers also emphasized that the program must be abolished as it denies rights to a section of workers who are indentured to their employers. Among the speakers were Marco Luciano of Migrante Alberta; Yessy Byl, longtime advocate for the rights of temporary foreign workers; Gil McGowan, President of the Alberta Federation of Labour; Alex Shevalier, President of the Calgary and District Labour Council; Wally Ewaniuk, National Representive with UNIFOR; and Peggy Askin representing Calgarians Against the Harper Dictatorship. Temporary foreign workers spoke on how difficult it was on them and their families to have their status in limbo.

The protest was very spirited, lively and showed the strong bond created by fighting for the rights of all.

(Photos: TML, Calgary and District Labour Council, Temporary Foreign Worker Support Coalition, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change)

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End the Temporary Foreign Worker Program Now!

The Harper dictatorship announced what it calls a comprehensive overhaul of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) on June 20. Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Development and Chris Alexander, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration announced the changes which they said would end "abuses" of the program and make sure that employers had actually made efforts to hire Canadians before they are given approval to hire temporary foreign workers.

Canadians are demanding an end to the neo-liberal low-wage agenda and an end to worker trafficking. Despite their vulnerable position, temporary foreign workers are standing up for their rights on the basis of "good enough to work - good enough to stay." The only acceptable response from the government is to end the Temporary Foreign Worker program now and provide permanent resident status to temporary foreign workers now working in Canada. After doing so it must develop a modern immigration policy based on serving the public interest and nation-building and end privatization and monopoly control over immigration.

The Harper government's proposed changes to the TFWP do nothing of the kind. They make life more precarious for temporary foreign workers and do nothing to put an end to the national disgrace of the TFWP which is a vestige from the days of the slave trade that has no place in modern society. They do nothing to put an end to the blatant abuse of state power to push an anti-worker, low-wage agenda. The changes provide new mechanisms to push the Harper dictatorship's anti-worker schemes and serve private monopoly interests.

Significant in these mechanisms is the announcement that the TFWP will be split into two parts, called the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and International Mobility Programs (IMPs). The IMPs are described as having as their primary objective "to advance Canada's broad economic and cultural national interest, rather than filling particular jobs." Actually IMPs are not new at all, showing that the claim that this is being done "to offer greater clarity and transparency" is sheer fraud.

Employers will only be required to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), formerly called a Labour Market Opinion (LMO), for the TFWP stream but not for the IMP stream. Restrictions have been placed on employers hiring TFWs in low-skilled occupations, which are now called low-wage occupations, and low-wage temporary foreign workers in Canada will be forced to leave or remain as undocumented workers with an even more precarious existence. Employers are guaranteed fast turn-around times for approval to hire highly skilled workers.

Statistics on IMP work permit holders show there has already been a very dramatic increase in foreign workers coming to Canada under this category. According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) there were 259,590 IMP permit holders present in Canada on December 31, 2013, and 112,650 temporary foreign workers. The table below shows the dramatic increase in the number of IMP permit holders from 52,577 in 2002 to 259,590 in 2013. From 2007 to 2013 the number of temporary foreign workers increased by 10,483 or 10.2 per cent while the number of IMP work permit holders increased by 162,727 or 157 per cent.

Canada - International Mobility Program Work Permit Holders Present on December 1st by Yearly Sub-status, 2002-2013










2002 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
NAFTA 11,532 14,229 15,974 16,318 19,251 21,748 23,927 25,192
Other FTA 341 452 603 628 632 786 959 1,059
International agreements 2,014 3,124 4,053 3,973 2,100 1,417 1,078 1,022
Provincial agreements 0 0 0 1,120 5,417 9,935 11,502 12,985
GATS 2,328 532 511 414 334 263 246 229
Workers – International arrangements subtotal 16,215 18,337 21,141 22,453 27,734 34,149 37,712 40,487
Reciprocal employment 16,377 32,747 40,941 52,837 59,690 64,892 68,121 68,298
Employment benefit 6,563 11,765 12,709 13,325 15,325 24,494 37,557 48,961
Spouse / common law partner 5,484 17,974 21,178 23,310 23,520 26,014 29,424 35,647
Research and studies related 5,321 12,015 15,764 22,835 28,719 36,202 44,761 58,106
Other Canadian interests 1,882 1,518 1,429 1,438 1,408 1,490 1,820 1,925
Workers – Canadian interests subtotal 35,627 76,019 92,021 113,745 128,662 153,092 181,683 212,937
Other work permit holders without LMO subtotal 735 2,507 2,149 2,239 2,305 3,551 5,491 6,166
International Mobility Program total 52,577 96,863 115,311 138,437 158,701 190,792 224,886 259,590

It is not clear from the information provided whether the Harper dictatorship has already greatly increased the number of workers who do not require a LMO (now a LMIA) or has "re-presented" the stats in order to pave the way to do so in the future. Either way, the aim is to permit private monopoly interests to bring temporary foreign workers to Canada without oversight or scrutiny, without any requirements to pay prevailing wage rates and without even going through the motions of requiring an assessment of whether the employers have made any effort to hire Canadians.

The fraudulent claim that the government is "fixing" the Temporary Foreign Worker program will not pass. Canadians are determined to end all vestiges of slavery as well as all aspects of Harper's low wage agenda. The rights of all workers must be recognized from the day they arrive in Canada. There is no place for any system designed to create a class of workers without rights so as to attack the rights of all. To this end, permanent residency status should be granted to temporary foreign workers who are working and contributing their hard work and skills to the Canadian economy and society. There is no place for a system which allows global monopolies to do as they please in order to push down wages and working conditions. The TFWP must be ended, whether it is called TFWP or IMP, and only legitimate exchanges permitted.

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Neo-liberal Globalization and
International Mobility Programs

The International Mobility Programs (IMP) include all streams of work permits for foreign nationals to work in Canada that are Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exempt.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) states, "By exempting some foreign nationals from needing a labour market impact assessment before being able to work in Canada, the IMP aims to provide competitive advantages to Canada and reciprocal benefits to Canadians." As for the statement "by exempting some foreign nationals," CIC reports that there were 259,590 workers in Canada with work permits issued under the IMPs on December 31, 2014. By comparison, there were 112,650 temporary foreign workers who received work permits after an LMIA had been issued. This means that 69 per cent of temporary foreign workers in Canada are working under work permits issued without a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

CIC states "As part of the review of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, the Government of Canada committed to introducing a series of reforms for those workers who are exempt from the LMIA process to ensure these exemptions continue to promote Canada's economic and labour market interests.

"The renamed International Mobility Programs (IMP) will include new fee for work permits through IMP, a new employer compliance system on par with the system being put in place for the TFWP, and additional changes to specific IMP streams."

This is misleading at best. Employers making job offers under the IMPs will not have to show that they made any effort to recruit Canadians or explain why they were not successful in recruiting a citizen or permanent resident of Canada before hiring a temporary foreign worker. Nor are they required to pay the prevailing regional wage rate. In some cases workers receive an open work permit (e.g. the International Experience Program), but there is no information regarding other categories. Their employers will be required only to pay a $230 fee, and to file a copy of the job offer and "other relevant information" to CIC. As for the claims that the government will conduct "robust investigations" to make sure that employers are not violating the rules, such claims have absolutely no credibility.

Global monopolies operating in Canada do not need an LMIA to transfer workers to their Canadian operation. The CIC admits that there "may" have been some abuse of this program and states that it will monitor more closely. The dead giveaway that this is the case is the statement made by RBC after workers went public that they were fired after training their replacements. RBC stated suppliers will be required to "not hire foreign workers from outside of Canada, when performing services on behalf of RBC, where a worker eligible to work in Canada is available and able to perform the service." 

No explanation was ever given of how RBC was permitted to do so in the first place, and whether an LMO was issued permitting them to do so. What has become clear is that they were not even required to apply for an LMO, but simply used the "employment benefit" category.

Making the monopolies internationally competitive on the global market means destruction of the public authority and permitting the global monopolies to do as they please. It includes all sorts of pay the rich schemes including public subsidies, providing the monopolies with public and social infrastructure at a fraction of its price of production, and eliminating regulatory authority. It also means that the global monopolies are being given a very wide berth to hire temporary foreign workers which can be used to drive down wages and attack the rights of all. The huge expansion of programs in which employers are not required to even post a job or take applications from Canadian workers, and in which there is no requirement to pay the regional prevailing wage rate must be ended. Where is the benefit to Canada when these companies are able to do as they please, and are not even required to ensure maximum job opportunities for Canadian citizens and residents? The announcements of changes are one more cover-up intended to convince Canadians that the Harper dictatorship is mending its ways with regard to its low wage agenda, while actually ramping up its low-wage austerity agenda. A fitting response is to step up the work to defeat the Harper dictatorship and develop the voice and independent politics of the working class.

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For Your Information

Changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program Announced on June 20

Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)

In order to obtain a positive LMIA, employers will need to produce some evidence of the number of Canadian workers who applied for the jobs, how many were interviewed and why they were not hired. Annex agreements with provincial governments now require an LMIA. However this does not apply to the International Mobility Programs.

In most cases (exceptions are not explained), employers requesting an LMIA for high-wage TFWs will have to submit a transition plan as to how they will increase efforts to hire Canadians, including through "higher wages, investments in training and more active recruitment efforts from within Canada." Making an application for permanent resident status for the TFWs they hire is also an acceptable transition plan, whether or not the application has any chance of success given the quotas on permanent residency.

Fees for Worker Trafficking

Employers will pay an increased fee for each LMIA requested, rising from $275 to $1,000.

Cap on Low-Wage Temporary Foreign Workers

Jobs are divided into low-wage and high wage categories based on the provincial median wage. Caps are placed on low-wage workers by worksite, phased in over 2 years. The cap does not apply to workers in the seasonal agricultural workers program. In 2012 there were 29,969 workers in the low-skill program who will be affected by the cap.

New work permits will not be issued for temporary foreign workers in low-wage jobs in food services, accommodation and retail trade in provinces where the unemployment rate is higher than 6 per cent. Employers in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Yukon where the official unemployment rate is below 6 per cent will still be able to hire TFWs for these jobs. The restriction does not apply to manufacturing, mining, meat processing and fish packing. This is not a step back from Harper and Kenney's low-wage agenda, as the aim is to try to force unemployed workers to accept jobs far below their normal salary or lose their benefits.

Employers with ten or more employees will be subject to the cap on the proportion of their workforce that can consist of low-wage temporary foreign workers, per worksite, based on worksite total hours when they apply for a new LMIA. Temporary foreign workers currently working at work sites over the cap will be allowed to continue working at those sites until their existing work permits expire. The ten per cent cap will be phased in, beginning with a limit of 30 per cent. This will decrease to 20 per cent on July 1, 2015 and be reduced again to 10 per cent on July 1, 2016.

On-farm primary agriculture including the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) and the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) are exempt from the fee, the cap, the one-year LMIA duration and the reduction in the period that a low-wage temporary foreign worker will be allowed to remain in Canada.

Work Permits

Temporary foreign workers already working in Canada will face an ever more precarious existence, and for many they will face the "choice" of being forced to return home or becoming undocumented workers. LMIAs for low-wage temporary foreign workers will be reduced from the current two-year standard duration to one-year periods. "To reinforce the temporary nature of the TFWP, the cumulative period during which general low-wage temporary foreign workers will be allowed to remain in Canada will be reduced."

Fast-Tracking of Skilled Trades

Caps do not apply to "high wage" jobs. New regulations will make it easier to hire temporary foreign workers in skilled trades, with a guaranteed 10-day turnout time for approvals.

Canada Job Bank

A job matching service will be created through the Canada Job Bank, and the number of qualified Canadians receiving Employment Insurance in an area will become part of the new LMIA process. Other changes include national wage and job vacancy surveys with larger sample size. These mechanisms are intended to try and force Canadians on EI to accept jobs far below their normal salary or lose their benefits.

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Note to Our Readers

TML Daily will be publishing irregularly for the rest of the summer. It will resume regular publication on Labour Day, September 1. The TML Weekly Information Project will continue to be posted every Saturday during this period.

Please continue to send us your letters, reports, articles and photographs. They provide the direct experience of the youth and working people on matters of concern to them which the monopoly-owned media completely ignores. This is indispensable to the publication of TML Daily.

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We wish you all the very best for the rest of the summer.

Keep fighting. Stay safe.

Technical and Editorial Staff
TML Daily

1. The maximum contribution to a political party permitted by law in one calendar year is $1,275.00 and only individuals may contribute. The name and address of individuals contributing more than $200 to a registered party must be reported to Elections Canada by the recipient and this information becomes a matter of public record, so with contributions over that amount please make sure your full name and address are included. You are entitled to a tax credit of 75 per cent of the first $400 to a maximum of $300, 50 per cent of the next $350 for a maximum of $475 and 33.3 per cent of any amount more than $750 up to $1,200 for a maximum tax credit of $624.85.

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