OTTAWA — The temporary foreign worker program is again front and centre in the House of Commons as Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau accuses the Conservatives of contributing to joblessness in hard-hit regions of the country.
Trudeau is citing statistics that he says show that the unemployment rate in some cities in southwestern Ontario, including London and Windsor, has increased as temporary foreign workers have been hired.
“In Windsor, the number of unemployed workers has risen by 40 per cent while the number of foreign workers in the city has grown by 86 per cent,” Trudeau said during Tuesday’s debate in the House.
“Unemployment in London has risen by 27 per cent while the number of foreign workers has increased by 87 per cent.”
Employment Minister Jason Kenney’s office issued a statement challenging Trudeau’s remarks.
“Statistics Canada clearly stated that ‘the effect of temporary foreign workers on the employment estimates is negligible,’ representing two per cent of overall employment,” spokeswoman Alexandra Fortier said in an email.
The NDP’s Jinny Sims, the party’s immigration critic, is also weighing in, accusing the government of badly mishandling the program.
Various Conservative MPs rose to defend the government’s handling of the program and those employers who are using temporary foreign workers in sectors and regions with legitimate labour shortages.
Saskatchewan’s Chris Warkentin, the Conservative member for Peace River, accused Trudeau of demonizing employers who have tried but ultimately were unable to find domestic employees.
He pointed to McDonald’s restaurants in Grand Prairie, saying the fast-food giant has dozens of job vacancies and is offering more than the prevailing market wage but can’t fill the positions.