Feds dragging feet on foreign worker employer inspections

The promised reform hasn’t come to fruition


OTTAWA – There has not been a single inspection done of a workplace that employs temporary foreign workers — even though the Conservative government promised to do so last year when it overhauled the controversial program for the first time.

Now, with further reforms set to be announced today, questions are being raised about why Ottawa has been so slow to act on a major part of changes announced last December.

The Canadian Press made a request under the Access to Information Act for all inspection reports of workplaces that employ temporary foreign workers. But in a letter dated June 2, Employment and Social Development Canada replied that no inspections have been carried out.

“Department officials have informed our office that workplace inspections are expected to occur beginning in fall 2014,” wrote Jackie Holden, the department’s director of access to information and privacy.

“As a result, ESDC does not have the information you requested.”

New regulations announced last December gave the government the power to inspect workplaces to make sure employers were following the rules of the temporary foreign worker program.

The program has become a hot potato for the Harper government ever since stories of abuses came to light in the news media, including one case where Royal Bank employees were asked to train foreign workers to take over their jobs.

In February, 65 Alberta ironworkers alleged they were let go so that foreign workers could replace them.

Canadian firms are using the program more and more to fill both high- and low-skilled positions, despite relatively high levels of unemployment and data showing that the ratio of unemployed to job vacancies is rising.

A recent government calculation estimated there were 386,000 temporary foreign workers in Canada, or about two per cent of the labour force, up from about 100,000 in 2002.


Feds dragging feet on foreign worker employer inspections

  1. Feds dragging feet? Of course they are! Their main purpose for the program is to keep down rates for low-paying jobs. Good heavens, we can’t have low-income Canadians trying to live on what they earn!

  2. Wasn’t that the whole point of the Harper-Kenny TFW Reform Program ?
    They were hoping that the already lowly-paid Canadian Workers, wouldn’t notice that their Jobs were being replaced by even lower-paid jobs.

  3. Okay. I took my time. Went and got a good strong drink. Now I’m
    ready to hear (again) about strong and stable gummint .. oh, and
    competent too, right. I’ll wait.

  4. The TWF programme is just another example of this government inability to listen to anyone outside their inner circle combined with its pathological adherence to Harper’s ideology and obsession with a balanced budget, now surplus, for the 2015 election campaign. This is the third revision to the original programme and each issue that has come back to bite them in the behind was predicted by their critics.

    Temporary foreign workers are the most vulnerable workers in Canada. It certainly shouldn’t require too many brains cells to figure out that these workers are at the complete mercy of their employers who can send them home if they complain about abuses. Nor should it take to many to know that the threat of unannounced inspections would limit the abuses. The Harper government is spending over 5 million on uniforms that no active officer has served under in the military for a photo-op but, not a dime to protect the foreign workers for whom it signs off on to come to Canada, There is an added incentive to bring in foreign workers as they pay taxes, EI and CPP which go into the government coffers and from which they will never benefit.

    Of course, there have been no inspections just as there are still no rules to prevent companies from bringing in foreign workers to be trained by Canadians who are losing their jobs to outsourcing or the transfers to Canada of lower paid foreign workers to replace Canadians by multinationals.

    But what else can we expect from a government whose ideology is in concert with corporations, that uses available job numbers on Kijiji to justify the increased importation of temporary foreign workers and is hell bent on destroying collective bargaining as a tool for Canadians to receive a living wage for their labour.

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