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.
Labour Council, Temporary Foreign Worker Support Coalition, Migrant
Workers Alliance for Change)
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
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
The Harper government's proposed changes
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
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
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.
- International Mobility Program Work Permit Holders Present on December
1st by Yearly Sub-status,
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.
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
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
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
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
is to step up the work to defeat the Harper dictatorship and develop
the voice and independent politics of the working class.
Changes to the Temporary
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."
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
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.
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."
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.
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,
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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
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