Temporary Foreign Worker Program should respect workers’ rights, provide path to citizenship

Toronto – May 26, 2016 – Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government is now reviewing Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) following feedback from Canadians that suggests program reforms brought in by the Harper Conservatives missed the mark and failed workers.

The review comes at a time when employers across the country are consciously expanding their reliance on migrant workers, and the number of temporary foreign workers entering Canada continues to increase every year.

Currently, the business community is demanding greater access to migrant and temporary foreign workers to staff Canadian farms, green houses, meat plants, hotels, and construction sites, among other workplaces. Clearly, then, foreign workers are no longer a short-term solution for perceived labour shortages, but rather a deep-rooted element of Canada’s changing workforce.

As the leading union for migrant and temporary foreign workers in Canada, UFCW Canada is pushing for several changes to the TFWP as part of the government’s review of the program.

Our main recommendation is that the federal government should immediately stop the practice of bringing workers to Canada without granting them a pathway to permanent residency upon arrival.

The government should also provide ‘open’ work permits for all temporary foreign workers; ensure that they are paid the prevailing domestic industry wage at a minimum; and also make it a condition of the TFWP that all program participants be allowed to join a union and bargain collectively.

Our union is hopeful that the government’s review of the TFWP will lead to lasting positive change for temporary foreign workers and address Canadians’ concerns regarding the program.

With this review, the Trudeau Liberals have a real opportunity to strike a balance between meeting the needs of employers who legitimately rely on the TFWP, and strengthening the rights of workers who participate in the program.