UFCW Canada

UFCW Canada
Workers' Action Centre

Workers' Action Centre

November 04, 2009 16:06 ET

Auditor General Report Confirms Abuses in Temporary Foreign Worker Program

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 4, 2009) - The Report of the Auditor General released on November 3, strongly supports advocates' concerns over the massive shortcomings of the Federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Auditor General Sheila Fraser exposed the realities of a program that makes migrant workers exceptionally vulnerable to abuses.

"The Auditor General has finally confirmed what UFCW Canada and our allies have been saying for years. The Temporary Foreign Worker Program has opened too many doors for potential abuses to migrant workers," stated UFCW Canada National President Wayne Hanley.

"The Report sheds light on issues that we have been voicing for almost two decades; unscrupulous employers being issued Labour Marker Opinions to bring in workers to fill jobs that don't exist. These workers, who regularly pay thousands of dollars to come to Canada, are left with little or nothing by way of work or housing. Employers regularly are refusing to pay the promised wages, and sometimes provide inhumane living and working conditions. This is just the tip of the iceberg in an embarrassing system that is rife with labour and human rights violations," adds Hanley.

The Auditor General's report calls attention to the failure of the federal government to follow up on the legitimacy of job offers and working and living conditions for migrant workers, which ultimately leave these workers in vulnerable situations.

"Workers are also vulnerable because they are tied to one employer and have precarious immigration status," explained Sonia Singh of the Workers' Action Centre. "We need the government to take responsibility and ensure that workers are granted permanent residency status, otherwise the system will remain open to abuse. The government must implement monitoring and enforcement measures to keep a check on bad employers."

"Ultimately, the Auditor General's report should make Canadians re-think the efficacy of a program that fails to provide a long term strategy for our nation building efforts or labour needs. To help solve the crisis of our aging workforce Canada needs workers that have the stability of immediate landed residency; not disposable economic units that are imported as commodities and then thrown away when they are spent," states Naveen Mehta, UFCW Canada Director of Human Rights.

UFCW Canada, as Canada's largest private-sector union, has been actively advocating for the rights of migrant workers across Canada for almost two decades. In partnership with the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA) (www.awa-ata.ca), UFCW Canada also operates nine agriculture worker support centres across the country.

The Workers' Action Centre is a worker-based organization committed to improving the lives and working conditions of people in low-wage and unstable employment.

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