EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - July 4, 2016) - While Canadians were celebrating their nation's birthday over the weekend, the federal Liberal government quietly broke their promise to "scale back" and "re-focus" the controversial Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
On July 1, the cap on the number of low-wage temporary foreign workers a company can hire was set to be reduced to 10 per cent of the company's workforce. Instead, the cap will stay where it is at 20 per cent.
"Even these modest measures designed to protect Canadian workers are being undermined," Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. "The Liberals have been conducting a review of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program - but the review ended up as a platform for hospitality employers from the mountain parks to call for exemptions, as opposed to a forum that would discuss 're-focusing and scaling back' the program as the Liberals had promised during the election."
The review, which recently concluded, obtained testimony from 15 different employer organizations, but allowed only three worker advocacy organizations to address the committee.
"The way this review was run completely contradicts the way it was sold to Canadians," McGowan said, noting that in an opinion article published by the Toronto Star on May 5, 2014, Justin Trudeau argued that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program needed to be "scaled back dramatically," and that the approvals process for employers needed to be tightened.
"Justin Trudeau was right, when he told Canadians that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program 'is bad for our economy in that it depresses wages for all Canadians, but it's even worse for our country,'" McGowan said. "It was bad for the country when Stephen Harper was Prime Minister. And it's bad for the country now."
Earlier this year, the Liberal Government carved out TFWP exemptions for seasonal industries, such as hospitality employers and fish-processing plants in Liberal-supporting maritime provinces.
"These kinds of moves - and the skewed nature of their review - are strong indications about the direction the federal government is heading," McGowan said. "They said all the right things about the program when they were on the campaign trail. But they've shown their true colours once in office."