St. John’s calls for end to ban on temporary foreign workers

Daniel
Daniel MacEachern
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St. John’s city council says the federal government should end its ban on restaurants hiring temporary foreign workers. City councillors voted Tuesday to formally ask the federal government to lift its moratorium, announced in April in response to reports some restaurant employers were misusing the program.

Hazel Ouano-Alpuerto, honorary consul general of the Philippine Consulate in St. John’s, said the moratorium will devastate the local immigrant community, some of whom will be forced to return to their home countries if they can’t reapply for their work visas.

“If they are sent home, that’s much worry for them, because they have come here to seek a better life here in Canada,” she said after councillors expressed support in lifting the ban.

“They left their family and their children, and some of them that are here were in the hopes of a better tomorrow, and now the dreams are shattered.”

The dozen Filipino workers who attended the meeting declined to speak to The Telegram.

Leslie Brake, co-owner of restaurant Blue on Water, also attended in support, saying one of her staff is a Filipino temporary foreign worker who’s worried he’ll be sent home.

“He’s basically in limbo waiting to speak to somebody,” said Brake, adding she pays the man the same as the Canadian residents on staff.

“His permit is up for renewal September of 2014. … He now has to wait to see. He’s been working so long and finally in a position to work towards bringing his family to a better place where he can see them and live with them, and now it’s uncertain for him and it’s a tremendous amount of stress.”

Coun. Tom Hann introduced the motion to ask Mayor Dennis O’Keefe to send a message to the federal government on behalf of the city.

“There’s confusion. There’s anxiety being expressed and experienced because of the federal government’s inability to solve the current situation with regard to immigrant workers,” said Hann, adding the concern is that people currently employed — who have come to Canada seeking a new life — will be sent home once their permits run out.

“Right here in our city and province we have a community of immigrants who have settled here, who contribute significantly to our multicultural fabric of the city, our community and to the economy. … If a solution isn’t found, it’s all over for them.”

Councillors voted to have Mayor Dennis O’Keefe send a letter to federal Minister of Immigration Jason Kenney, asking that the moratorium be lifted in favour of a “more effective solution.”

“Do you want a nice letter, a nasty letter, or a nice and nasty letter? … Nice and nasty? I can do that,’’ O’Keefe said.

Coun. Art Puddister said temporary foreign workers should be paid the same as Canadian residents.

“I don’t believe they should work for a lesser amount. I think if they’re in this country, they should be working for the acceptable standard wage.”

Ouano-Alperto said she was elated by council’s support.

“We’re very pleased,” she said.

“There was no second thought from the council, and we are forever indebted to the support by this city and Mayor Dennis O’Keefe and through Coun. Tom Hann.”

dmaceachern@thetelegram

Twitter: @TelegramDaniel

Organizations: Philippine Consulate

Geographic location: Canada

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Recent comments

  • tfw
    May 23, 2014 - 00:22

    We, TFW's are NOT EXEMPTED IN PAYING our TAXES Mr. Daniel , if we want to help our families back home by sending our hard earned money that is our own discretion. Coming to Canada is not just like flipping a burger, it will take months or even years to undergo process and it is only RIGHT that TFW's should be treated fairly. We did not come here for free, we burn our brows working here to be able to tell ourselves at the end of the day we deserve the $ that we received. Are we not helping the economy? We are also fully aware of being TEMPORARY and that is why before our work permit expires we have to pay to renew our work PERMITS....it is not free.

    • Daniel
      May 29, 2014 - 23:23

      Development Countries like Phillipines likes to have to filipinos becoming migrant i.e. OFW, why ? Phillipines collects remittance from their migrants, i.e. $23B in 2013, this is money that is not for Canadian Economy. Temporary means temporary, in other words, after your four years, your contract did end, ours not, because we are Canadians. And by the way beside TFW, what is your real name ? I never said you are not paying taxes but I can say you were hired because you are cheap labour for your greedy canadian employer. Since TWFs came by, our Canadian wages went down, at Tim Hortons in Calgary in 2006, it was paying $13-$14 per hour, not $9.95, we can only blame our Federal Government for bringing too many TFW in the country, and not hiring Canadians first.

  • Cecilia
    May 22, 2014 - 02:06

    You're right Ms. Marilyn you nailed it! You know, hiring a TFW is not easy for the employers and for the TFW, it is a long process. All TFW understand their position as a "Temporary" workers in NL. FYI! The government introduce the Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Nominee Program (NLPNP) under the Office of Immigration and Multiculturalism. It offers a quicker immigration process for qualified skilled workers, family members, international graduates and entrepreneurs who wish to settle permanently in Newfoundland and Labrador. I've known so many families, individuals, TFW who went to this program and settled here in NL. As far as I know most of the TFW are now processing their papers through NLPNP hoping that they will be able to stay and settle here in NL. NOT BECAUSE THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND THE MEANING OF TEMPORARY! There is a program out there that is giving the TFW a chance to stay. I am proud that we Filipinos are the No. 1 to the Top 10 Nominees in the province http://www.nlpnp.ca/pdf/pnp_fact_sheet2013.pdf and the main exporting people around the world. The Philippines is exporting people around the world to work from washing that toilets to flip that burgers, to serve you wine at the cruise ship, look after elderly in their own home 24/7, give that medicine & work 12hr shifts in the hospital, Lawyers, Engineers, Seaman you name it we have it all. We are working hard & stretching our bones to provide for our family not to defend on government EI (we don't have EI anyway). We are here because, we have met all the standard procedure of the programs that the government has required us to do. We pay our taxes like anybody else, we are not burden to this province and to the country.

  • Cecilia
    May 22, 2014 - 01:56

    You're right Ms. Marilyn you nailed it! You know, hiring a TFW is not easy for the employers and for the TFW, it is a long process. All TFW understand their position as a "Temporary" workers in NL. FYI! The government introduce the Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Nominee Program (NLPNP) under the Office of Immigration and Multiculturalism. It offers a quicker immigration process for qualified skilled workers, family members, international graduates and entrepreneurs who wish to settle permanently in Newfoundland and Labrador. I've known so many families, individuals, TFW who went to this program and settled here in NL. As far as I know most of the TFW are now processing their papers through NLPNP hoping that they will be able to stay and settle here in NL. NOT BECAUSE THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND THE MEANING OF TEMPORARY! There is a program out there that is giving the TFW a chance to stay. I am proud that we Filipinos are the No. 1 to the Top 10 Nominees in the province http://www.nlpnp.ca/pdf/pnp_fact_sheet2013.pdf and the main exporting people around the world. The Philippines is exporting people around the world to work from washing that toilets to flip that burgers, to serve you wine at the cruise ship, look after elderly in their own home 24/7, give that medicine & work 12hr shifts in the hospital, Lawyers, Engineers, Seaman you name it we have it all. We are working hard & stretching our bones to provide for our family not to defend on government EI (we don't have EI anyway). We are here because, we have met all the standard procedure of the programs that the government has required us to do. We pay our taxes like anybody else, we are not burden to this province and to the country.

  • Dianne
    May 21, 2014 - 12:02

    @ Marilyn, why don't you talk to some of those workers who was let go to make room for foreign workers. Then talk, Never mind carrying the banner for places like McDonald's.

  • Marilyn
    May 21, 2014 - 11:44

    Mr. Coaker - if Newfoundlander's wanted these jobs they would be working at these burger, etc. joints.. Most Newfoundlander's would frown upon the thought of working at McDonald's. So where are you getting off saying what about the poor Newfoundlander's?

    • a business man
      May 22, 2014 - 08:57

      In my experience, Newfoundlanders do not want these jobs or only want these jobs to earns the hours necessary for EI. Unskilled uneducated Newfoundlanders think they deserve more than minimum wage for unskilled work, even though the job can be done by any idiot off the street.

    • Brad
      May 22, 2014 - 15:53

      For a supposed "business man" you sure lack common sense and basic math skills. EI tops out at just under $900 bi weekly. Welfare tops out at $550/month if you are single with no kids. If you offered a choice between $15/hr vs even EI I am willing to wager my next paycheck they would take the $15/hr every time

  • Daniel Masse
    May 21, 2014 - 10:36

    Canadians should read what Temporary Foreign Workers staffing agency say about Canadians. They are saying that Canadians are not goid to be hired: they have a family and they have social distractions... So what temporary foreign workers want to bring: their family. Anyhow the TFWs do not understand the word temporary. TFWs are sending all their money to their country, nothing for Canadian Economy.

  • Brad
    May 21, 2014 - 10:12

    We live in a province that has a high EI rate, yet for experienced workers in any industry, it is highly difficult to get a good position here. I tried for 2 summers to get a position ANYWHERE downtown in a restaurant (having 2+ years experience) and had no luck...yet I was back in Halifax and had a job in not even 2 weeks. Same thing professionally, I have 3+ years of experience in my field yet I keep getting passed over. I'd bet bottom dollar I'd get a job in a heartbeat in Halifax or somewhere else that rewards hard work. If it wasn't for the fact that I have a wife with a very stable job + kids, I would have been LONG gone from here.

  • Judi
    May 21, 2014 - 08:10

    The knee jerk reaction of the federal government to impose a ban on temporary foreign workers needs to be re-visited. The employers who are using the program properly and treating ALL employees with respect should not be penalized for the few that are misusing the program. It is becoming next to impossible to find workers in this province who want to work in the food service industry. So what do business owners do? Close the business? Employ people who don,t want the work? This is a multi faceted issue that needs discussion and input from both business owners and the general public. This immediate reaction of the federal government without any consultation has placed undue stress on businesses and workers.

    • Brad
      May 21, 2014 - 11:31

      How about pay local workers the prevailing market wage? If you can't find workers, either raise your rate of pay or close down. That's how market economics work.

    • a business man
      May 22, 2014 - 09:05

      Brad - I acutally use another option. In cases where I can't find local unskilled workers to work for minimum wage, I have relocated the company to an area where the prevailing market wage is far far lower. For example, in my call center business, I have taken hundreds of jobs out of Canada because the Canadian wage was too high. I was running a very profitable operation, but I recognized that I could make even more profits by finding cheaper workers. So I moved the company to the USA. Furthermore, I used to pay people to make thank you calls and appointment confirmation calls. Again it was profitable, but I decided that I could make more money by using cheaper workers. So again, I closed the Canadian office, and I actually used technology to do these tasks. I eliminated the needs for workers and therefore increased my profits because I was selling a service that was provided by technology. So Brad, please not that business owners have options. We don't have to pay the absurd wage that the government mandates for unskilled uneducated workers. Business owners can move companies to the USA or Mexico or India or elsewhere, and business owners can invest in technologies that eliminate the need for workers. Paying the prevailing market wage is not the only option, and should be regarded as the option of last resort (only when it comes to unskilled uneducated workers). That, Brad, is how market workers. The market is composed of much much more than the local workforce.

  • Albert Johnson
    May 21, 2014 - 07:43

    Just what right does the Philippine Government, one of the more corrupt governments in the world, have to get involved suggesting Canadian laws are not to the benefit of their citizens. The workers came here knowing the key word temporary. Billions of dollars have been donated to the Philippines to help rebuilding after Typhoon Yolanda with little work having started after all these months. Perhaps Ouano-Alpuerto better serve her country by asking where is the money and why is it not being used to help provide employment for Filipinos at home. In the Philippines it is Filipinos first with foreign workers not allowed, and foreigners not allowed to own property. Hazel Ouano-Alpuerto seems to think that they should be first in Canada as well. Well they are in Canada and subject to Canadian law which is Canadians must be the first considered for vacant positions. This is a country that sadly counts exporting people as one of it's main commodity's and even counts the money sent back to the Philippines as part of it's GDP. http://www.philstar.com/business/2014/02/17/1291769/remittances-hit-record-high-25.1-b-2013 It's time for the Canadian Government to greatly reduce it's approval of temporary workers. They knew when they arrived they were here on a temporary basis. Like the temporary workers referred to in this article, Canadians too would like a better life here in Canada. These workers are the responsibility of their Canadian employers not the Canadian Government, and their Canadian employers are contractually responsible to pay their airfare home.

  • William Coaker
    May 21, 2014 - 06:26

    With 35,000 people actively seeking employment in NL - the highest unemployment rate in Canada - leave it to people like Tom Hann to demand more foreign workers. Not just temporary workers mind you - which was the intent of the program - but he wants them here permanently. Not just for highly skilled positions that are in short supply in Canada, but bringing them in to flip burgers for our next minister of finance. 3,000 of them already in this province but government doesn't want to say where or why. They don't want to provide a breakdown because it could prove embarrassing. Does anybody really think Hann is speaking out for foreign workers because he's concerned about their welfare. Just about every day now we read about another temporary worker who is upset he might have to leave once his permit expires. The plight of these workers is being used by business groups and politicians in the pocket of business groups to get this program re-instated ASAP. If that doesn't happen, wages for low end workers might have to rise by 50 cents an hour and that would eat into the big profits of companies like McDonald's. Who do you hear speaking for the 35,000 out of work Newfoundlanders? No one? That's about right don't you think?

    • Juan Manuel
      May 22, 2014 - 21:12

      I know why nobody wants to apply that kind of job because people there in newfoundland want to recieve pay without doing nothing they want to get paid by just standing watching TFW working hard for there family backhome.And we are proud to be TFW's feeding our family streching our bones,taking shower with own sweat.And if they got hardtime to thier job they're just quiting leaving in the middle of busy time.just cross the street and bye bye..thats 100% right..that was my experience...

  • Paul
    May 21, 2014 - 04:33

    So, are O'Keefe, Hann and Puddister, etc., going to police the TFW Program, too, to make sure TFW aren't being exploited and Newfoundland workers aren't being displaced? Or are they just going to follow the Fed. Gov't's lead and leave it up to businessmen such as Mr. Brake to self-regulate? Yeah, right, I thought so.