Canada’s largest migrant worker coalition is lashing out against the Conservative government’s handling of the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program, as well as recent Liberal Party proposals to fix the program.
The Migrant Workers Alliance For Change (MWAC) has called for “immediate changes” to the recently instituted moratorium on hiring TFW employees within the food service sector.
Rather than freezing the hiring of TFW workers, the MWAC is calling for the Canadian government to provide a permanent immigration pathway for ‘low-skilled industries’ and make it easier for migrant workers to gain permanent status within Canada; a spokesperson the MWAC added that “the media is full of stories of migrant worker exploitation, but this moratorium won’t end the abuse, it will just make workers more precarious.”
Representatives from the MWAC also voiced concern that the Canadian government’s moratorium on TFW workers in the food service sector could have the opposite of the desired effect, actually hurting the very workers it was designed to help.
“Recent reports expose how provincial and federal laws exclude migrants from basic workplace protections,” explained MWAC spokesperson Syed Hussan. “The solution is to change those two-tiered laws that create conditions of lowered wages and working conditions, and that pit migrant workers against unemployed or under-employed citizens.”
However, the MWAC took an equally critical view of the changes proposed to the TFW program by the opposition Liberal Party.
Rather than scaling back and tightening the requirements under the TFW program—as recently proposed by Liberal leader Justin Trudeau–the MWAC calls on both the government and opposition parties to include migrant workers under all labor protection laws.
The real solution to abuse of the TFW program, according to the MWAC, is to “remove those exclusions from labor protections for all workers” thus making migrant workers ‘allies’—rather than competitors—with Canadian workers.
The other key element to solving the problem of foreign worker abuse, according to the MWAC, is to recognize that foreign workers are an integral part of the Canadian workforce.
“To treat them (foreign workers) as a separate entity, as the Liberals do, makes no economic sense, and continues the divisiveness drummed up over the last month,” says the MWAC’s Hussan. “Migrants are our friends and family, not just a market-input brought in when needed.”