UFCW Canada

UFCW Canada

October 14, 2009 11:07 ET

Real protection for Temporary Foreign Workers requires real solutions, not unenforced paper protocols

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 14, 2009) - New measures to be undertaken by the government of Canada, which it asserts work towards greater protection of Temporary Foreign Workers, fall significantly short of any meaningful protections.

In a statement issued on October 9, Minister of Immigration Jason Kenney announced new plans heralded as the government's response for protecting these vulnerable workers including limits to the length of a worker's stay in Canada before being repatriated.

"Once again the Conservative government is shirking its responsibility to adequately protect temporary migrant workers by introducing measures that continue to punish workers and ignore the inhumane treatment by some employers," said UFCW Canada National President Wayne Hanley.

"These new measures are only another extension of the Conservative government's plan to limit immigration in favour of temporary work programs. After living and working in Canada, these vulnerable migrants should have access to a path to citizenship and a right to permanent residency, not a pink slip and a deportation order," added Hanley.

Although the Conservatives new plan also promises a two-year prohibition from hiring a temporary foreign worker by employers found to have provided significantly different wages, working conditions or occupations than promised — with a disturbing lack of enforcement mechanisms in place there is little hope that these measures will provide any genuine protection for these workers.

"If the Conservatives are interested in providing meaningful protections for migrant workers, they would invest in real enforcement measures. Writing paper protocols is merely political grandstanding and does nothing to end the exploitation of workers who are often isolated and have limited, if any, access to legal services," explained Naveen Mehta, UFCW Canada Director of Human Rights, Equity and Diversity.

As Canada's largest private-sector union, UFCW Canada has been advocating in the courts and on the streets for the rights of migrant workers across Canada for almost two decades. In association with the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA) (www.awa-ata.ca), UFCW Canada also operates nine agriculture worker support centres across Canada.

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