The Temporary Foreign Worker Program was designed to supplement the Canadian workforce in cases where the domestic labour force is unable to meet the need for specific skills that are in demand by employers, and for which there is a shortage of workers.
It is not meant to be a long-term employment substitution, nor is it meant to take jobs away from Canadians.
The Liberals have proposed a reasonable, long-term plan to curb abuses of the program, and fix this mess created by the Harper government.
We propose scaling back the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and focusing on its original purpose of filling labour shortages when there is a legitimate need. A Liberal government would also tighten the rules to ensure employers genuinely seek Canadians first. In addition to enforcing those rules, we would also impose severe penalties on violators. And, unlike the Conservatives, a Liberal government would increase the transparency of the program so Canadians can know the number of jobs in each occupation and community that are being offered to temporary foreign workers.
The truth is, the Harper government could have taken action to improve the Temporary Foreign Worker Program long ago.
Instead, since forming government, the Conservatives have shortened the time an employer had to actively search for Canadian workers before accessing the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. They extended the length of time a temporary foreign worker can work in Canada.
Yet they failed to create safeguards to ensure employers were telling the truth on those applications.
The Harper government has mismanaged the Temporary Foreign Worker Program so badly they have more than doubled its intake of temporary foreign workers, admitting almost as many temporary workers to Canada as new permanent residents in 2012.
The end result has been fewer jobs for Canadian workers, the suppression of Canadian wages, and, in some cases, the exploitation of vulnerable foreign workers.
Liberals recognize it is only by fixing the Temporary Foreign Worker Program will further exploitation be prevented and enhanced recruiting, training and employment opportunities for Canadians become the priority again.
Judy M. Foote