Saturday, April 09, 2011

Conservative's Disastrous Guest Worker Policy

The number of guest workers allowed in has exploded since the Conservatives came to power and whereas the typical guest worker was once an American transferred to a branch office in Canada, the fastest growing category of guest worker is now the unskilled type with poor language skills. The Conservatives have not done this directly. They have turned over a greater percentage of the immigration file to the provinces and Western provinces in particular have used the program to undercut labour. The Canadian tax payer has paid through the noise to have cheap labour sent in from other countries for the sole purpose of cutting wages of the Canadian tax payer.

"According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, there were 57,843 temporary foreign workers in Alberta by the end of 2008, a 55 per cent jump from 2007 and more than four times the number residing here five years ago. By contrast, permanent immigration has been relatively stagnant, with fewer than 25,000 immigrants coming to Alberta last year from outside the country, only a few thousand people higher than in 2004.

Alberta is not the only the province to import workers. In raw numbers, Ontario has the highest number at 91,733. B.C. has about the same number as Alberta. Quebec has many fewer at only 26,085."

Forget Conservative talk about such provincial programs bringing in much needed skilled workers, this was the kind of positions Alberta was hoping to fill through its guest worker programs this summer: Front desk clerk, short order cook, baker, maid, assembly line worker, server, buser, bellhop, valet, and cafeteria worker, laundry attendant, pet groomer, general labourer, and hair dresser. All that is required of such would be immigrants is that they score 4 or 24 on the language assessment. In other words, they can still be functionally illiterate and still get it in.

It takes a great deal of chutzpah to Kenney to talk about wanting to avoid “the kind of ethnic enclaves or parallel communities that exist in some European countries” and then go about encouraging the very thing that led to the creation of these communities in Europe, viz., importing gobs of unskilled guest labour. Canada is lucky in so far as most Canadians see new immigrants as one of us. The Conservative policy will change this though. If the situation is allowed to continue, an increasing number of Canadians will see new immigrants, and most people are not going to make the distinction between guest worker and permanent resident, as someone brought in by employers to undercut wages.

Do not take my word for it. Take Sheila Fraser's word for it.

The report notes that Ottawa does not impose any minimum standards on workers selected by the provinces, and calls for these programs to be reviewed.

Provincial auditors-general in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island have all warned that the program is failing to track whether workers brought in by a province actually stay there.

The Auditor-General also reviewed the impact of controversial new powers awarded to Canada's immigration minister that were passed as part of the Conservative government's 2008 budget bill.

“We found that the Department [of Citizenship and Immigration] has made a number of key decisions in recent years without properly assessing their costs and benefits, potential risks, and likely impact on programs,” Ms. Fraser said. “Some of these decisions have caused a significant shift in the types of foreign workers being admitted permanently to Canada. There is little evidence that this shift is part of any well-defined strategy to best meet the needs of the Canadian labour market.”

In her first use of these new powers last year, then-immigration minister Diane Finley dropped the list of eligible occupations for the skilled worker program to 38 from 351.

1 comment:

WesternGrit said...

And Kenney can lie about immigration numbers when such a large number are only "temps". It's a great way to lie to immigrants, and say they are "immigrant-friendly", when all they've done is cut back on numbers, and killed off the family reunification class...