Crackdown on labour violations coming
Ottawa to tackle abuse of foreign workers
Feb 24, 2009 04:30 AM
OTTAWA BUREAU CHIEF
OTTAWA – The federal government intends to bring in new regulations to punish employers who exploit foreign workers by forcing them to toil in poor working conditions for low pay.
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.
It's nice to see that Jason Kenney cares so much about the welfare of temporary foreign workers. What about Canadian workers?
They always speak in vague terminology. "Acute labour shortages in certain regions and industries" and talks with "human resource experts." Which regions and which industries? Who are these experts? Fortunately this time we know.
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.
Got that? Representatives from the food and restaurant industry are pushing for more foreign workers. Apparently in these uncertain economic times Canadians are rushing to restaurants and driving up business and thus the need for more staff, bucking economic logic and past industry trends during a recession.
Restaurants typically suffer during economic downturns becuase consumers are more conservative with their money (unless they're rich or stupid) and eat out less. The only ones not to suffer are fast food restaurants. As was expected, and did happen, McDonald's stock rose on increased sales domestically and abroad and is expected to do well in 2009 becuase of the recession. So if there are any "acute shortages" in the food and restaurant industry it is most likely for counter and kitchen help at your local McDonald's or other fast food outlets. Is this reason enough to bring in so many temporary foreign workers at this time?
And what of their temporary status? Do we have any assurance that once the job is done they will leave the country? They most likely won't further flooding the labour market with surplus labour. But since such problems are paid for by the public the private sector doesn't really care what happens to these people and what negative effects they have on the lives of other Canadians. There's profit to be had. As for Jason Kenney and the Conservatives, it's all about votes.