Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Ottawa to tackle abuse of foreign workers
February 24, 2009
OTTAWA BUREAU CHIEF
The new rules, expected by the end of March, would prevent employers with repeated violations of labour laws from being allowed to bring in foreign workers, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney told the Star.
"I will be coming forward with draft regulations later in the spring to look at ensuring that the employers who abuse the system, a small minority, are ineligible to use it," he said in an interview.
But Kenney says the government has no intention of turning off the tap on the tens of thousands of workers who arrive from abroad to fill jobs in Canada, despite rising unemployment.
"We do anticipate there will be a reduction in applications for temporary workers and work permits because of the downturn ... but there continues to be acute labour shortages in certain regions and industries so the program will be useful to those employers," he said.
Just last week, Kenney said he and Human Resources Minister Diane Finley met with representatives from the food and restaurant industry who pressed for more foreign help.
"They're still desperately crying out for more temporary foreign workers because they say they advertise for line cooks, for waiters and are unable to get people in Canada," Kenney said.
But opposition politicians are concerned the temporary foreign worker program robs Canadians of jobs, and that foreign workers are being exploited and abused.
Kenney said the proposed regulations would address concerns about employers abusing workers.
"In a tiny fraction of cases there are abuses," he said. "We're aware of those and we're prepared to take additional regulatory action, for instance, to bar employers who have multiple offences from ... applying for work permits."
Currently, Ottawa can't take action against an employer found in violation on provincial labour laws on issues such as working conditions or wage rates, he said.
Liberal Senator Pierrette Ringuette says Ottawa has a duty to better police the temporary foreign workers program and ensure that unemployed Canadians aren't being shut out of jobs by workers brought in from abroad.
"The temporary foreign workers program, it's exactly that. It's temporary and should be adjusted to the circumstances," she said.
- Sergio R. Karas
- Toronto, Ontario, Canada
- I am a Canadian lawyer (Barrister and Solicitor) and a Certified Specialist in Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Law by the Law Society of Upper Canada, a recognized expert in Canadian immigration law. I am an honors graduate in Political Science from York University and I obtained my Law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School. I speak fluent English, French and Spanish and have a working knowledge of Italian, Portuguese and German. I am a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and the Canadian Bar Association (CBA), current Chair of the Citizenship and Immigration Section of the Ontario Bar Association (OBA), Pasat Chair of the Immigration and Nationality Committee of the International Bar Association (IBA) and Past Vice-Chair of the Canada Committee of the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of International Law. I am also a member of the Inter-Pacific Bar Association (IPBA), and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).