Politicians get new perspective on foreign workers
TORONTO, July 29, 2013 /CNW/ - Following recent worrisome changes to the
Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), the Canadian Federation of
Independent Business (CFIB) gave federal politicians a fresh
perspective on the issue this week. CFIB sent each of Canada's 308
Members of Parliament (MPs) a copy of Making It Work: Real stories of small business and foreign workers, a compilation of stories from Canadian small businesses that depend on
"I would probably have to shut down my business if not for temporary
foreign workers," said Alan Champagne, who owns and runs Eco-Flex®
Recycled Rubber Solutions in Legal, Alberta. "For whatever reason, most
Canadians don't seem to want these jobs. I've looked high and low for
Canadian workers, but rarely find one. I depend on the temporary
foreign workers I've hired to make my business run and I don't see that
changing in the near future."
Champagne is one of several small business owners featured in Making It Work. He says the downside to the booming resource industry in some
provinces is that workers can command very high wages, but it forces
him to pass up business opportunities because he can't find enough
general labourers to work in his shop. Eco-Flex has thirty employees,
eight of which are TFWs.
Recently, the TFWP received negative media attention when it was
reported that a bank used the program to facilitate outsourcing of jobs
overseas. This led to changes that made the program slower and more
costly, with the federal government promising more changes to come.
Small businesses that use the program to fill legitimate labour needs
are concerned that a process that is already long and expensive will be
put completely out of reach.
"We want to avoid a classic 'throwing the baby out with the bathwater'
scenario," said CFIB president Dan Kelly. "While the program may have
been mis-used by a few large companies, small firms use it to fill in
gaps where no Canadians are able or willing to work. These are stories
of need, not greed."
The stories reflect the realities of a number of different industries in
different parts of the country. The common thread is a shortage of
Canadian workers and the need to fill positions in order to protect the
existing jobs in small firms. Also heard are the voices of foreign
workers participating in the program, who share what the program has
meant to them.
Concludes Kelly, "The TFWP is absolutely essential for many small
businesses. Just because some big companies may be abusing the system,
let's not penalize the small businesses that use the program properly
by adding new fees and red tape that could shut out Canada's
CFIB is Canada's largest association of small and medium-sized
businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region.
SOURCE: Canadian Federation of Independent Business
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