Bad Press for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program Is Unfair

By Andy Semotiuk | April 22, 2014

Canadian Immigration lawyer Andy Semotiuk

Toronto immigration lawyer Andy Semotiuk: If you have been reading my blog, then you know how I feel about the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and the negative press it has been facing lately. Here comes another story in the same vein:

The owners of a pizza restaurant in Weyburn, Sask., are facing a deluge of online scorn and a federal investigation after two veteran employees said they lost their jobs to temporary foreign workers.

Sandy Nelson and Shauna Jennison-Yung worked 28 and 14 years, respectively, at Brothers Classic Grill and Pizza before learning last month that all staff were being laid off as part of a restructuring. When the dust settled, the temporary foreign workers at the restaurant were retained while the two women said they were not.

“Canadians are being denied jobs,” said Ms. Jennison-Yung, who argues problems with the foreign worker program are widespread. “There’s no way that we should be – at our ages – out there pounding the pavement, having to take an entry-level job, when we’ve worked our asses off to get where we are. It’s just not right.”

Federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney often mentions Weyburn in his speeches as an example of a region where labour shortages are real and the controversial Temporary Foreign Worker Program is very much needed.

Mr. Kenney set a precedent earlier this month by publicly naming four employers that have been banned or suspended from the program for allegedly breaking the rules, including the owner of three McDonald’s franchises in Victoria. That decision was partly in response to a CBC report quoting complaints from former McDonald’s employees. The CBC also reported the complaints regarding the restaurant in Weyburn.

This story clearly does not add up. It is impossible for a Canadian employer to hire temporary foreign workers in Canada without explaining the rationale for why they are needed. They further have to indicate that current workers will not be displaced. This is simply part of the process.

While I empathize with the workers who are complaining that they lost their jobs, there must be reasons for this beyond just replacing domestic workers with cheaper foreign workers. Anyone who thinks differently should try to file a successful foreign worker application – the process is murder.Foreign Workers Are Essential To Our Economy

One should ask, why would an employer go through the headaches of a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) application for the sake of lowering wages? Why not just fire Canadian workers and hire lower paid locals?To abolish the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, as is suggested in this article, would be like cutting off one’s hand because it is making mistakes – foreign workers are essential to the functioning of our economy. Even if occasional errors were to be made, it does not justify abolishing the system.

I believe there is an ideological slant to the attacks on the program. These media stories appear staged and almost too welcome to be believed. I wonder who are these people in the dark who beat the drums of dissent about temporary foreign workers? The media should do us a favour and look more closely into who is behind all of this.



Andy Semotiuk is a Canadian and US immigration lawyer with Toronto immigration law firm Pace Law Firm. You can learn more about Andy at My Work Visa.