Service sector sees spike in temporary foreign workers
The number of temporary foreign workers in Canada’s hotel and restaurant sector has exploded under the Conservative government as the latest figures show the industry is the biggest user of the controversial federal program.
Recent allegations of abuse in the program – some involving three McDonald’s franchises in Victoria and others tied to a pizza place in a Weyburn, Sask., hotel – have federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney on the defensive and vowing to crack down on offenders. The minister is also musing about new restrictions that could make it harder for fast-food restaurants in urban areas to access the program.
Mr. Kenney’s spokeswoman Alexandra Fortier told The Globe on Tuesday the minister is planning to announce further changes to the program “in due course” that will go beyond new penalties included in the government’s latest budget bill.
According to data compiled by Mr. Kenney’s department, the number of foreign workers in the “accommodation and food services” sector has grown from 4,360 in 2006 to 44,740, an increase of 926 per cent. The actual number of foreign workers in that category is likely higher because the statistic captures only people working under a federal Labour Market Opinion (LMO), a process meant to ensure that no Canadian workers were available.
There are several ways for employers to bring in foreign workers without an LMO, such as through existing trade deals.
More than 200,000 workers were brought in through LMOs in 2012, but data from Citizenship and Immigration show 491,547 temporary foreign workers either entered Canada or were still present in Canada that year.
NDP MP Jinny Sims said the rise is “outrageous” and shows the need for a major review of the program, especially given that youth – who would be obvious candidates for restaurant jobs – face a 13.6-per-cent unemployment rate. Liberal MP John McCallum wrote to the Auditor-General on Tuesday asking for an audit of the program as soon as possible. (Source: Globe & Mail)
REPUBLISHED in iPolitics, The Thunder Bay Chronicle, The Lamont Leader (Alberta), The Red Deer Advocate, The Calgary Herald, The Melville Advance (Saskatchewan), The St. John’s Telegram (Newfoundland)