OTTAWA — In the middle of the ongoing crackdown on temporary foreign workers (TFW), Philippine Consul General to Ottawa Eric Tamayo spoke up for the TFWs.
Tamayo said the Conservative government needs to think about foreign workers after last week’s moratorium on the restaurant sector.
The recently enacted moratorium has kept the restaurant sector from the TFW program, which means a considerable number of foreign workers are now left hanging, waiting for the government’s next move.
Temporary foreign workers’ length of stay in service is 90 days, after which they send their application to the federal government to find a new temporary job. Failure to find employment means going back to their home country.
This decision to suspend the restaurant sector from including foreign workers in their employ came from reports that certain McDonald’s franchises in Victoria were hiring temporary Filipino employees while Canadian applicants were being turned down.
“The understanding among many Filipinos taking part in the program is they have come to Canada to take on the work that not many people in Canada nowadays would like to do… We’ve had the occasion to talk with some of the workers on the ground and they’re happy with having been given the opportunity to work in Canada… Certainly the last thing on their mind would be if they are taking the job of anybody else,” said Tamayo.
“They’re just terrified right now. They don’t know what to do with themselves… People need answers now,” said Justicia for Migrant Workers spokesperson Chris Ramsaroop, who believes that a growing negative impression on foreign workers is a cause for concern.
In fact, an advocacy group lobbying for foreign workers said that all this animosity is on the breach of racism.
The New Democratic Party (NDP) is moving a motion for a full-day debate as the Conservatives are calling for a debate on Tuesday in the House of Commons. NDP’s motion will focus on appealing for a broader suspension, which will include all kinds of jobs that require a lower set of skills. NDP is also motioning for the House and Auditor-General to conduct an urgent audit of the said program.
When asked about the proposed audit, Kenney said, “In terms of the program, if and when there are abuses, we act clearly and quickly… We are about to come out with another phase of further reforms to ensure that Canadians always and everywhere get the first crack at available jobs, and that that program is only used as a limited and last resort by employers.”
Kenney reproached NDP for reportedly standing in the way of businesses hiring TFWs. While NDP leader Thomas Mulcair turned the tables on the Employment Minister.
“What’s astonishing today is to hear Jason Kenney stand up and say there’s all sorts of problems with the management of the temporary foreign worker program. He’s been the guy managing it for the past six years,” said Mulcair. “We’re going to continue to put pressure on the government so that they change this program.”
In the past years, the Philippines has been the no.1 source country—with Mexico in second place—when it comes to recommended labour market options. This entails a screening process to verify that Canadians are not available for a certain task before offering it to foreign workers.