Protesters converge on Conservative cabinet minister Joe Oliver's office
TORONTO, June 10, 2013 /CNW/ - Dozens of community and labour activists
converged on Conservative MP Joe Oliver's office today to demand an end
to the Harper government's low-wage economic strategy and abuse of
temporary foreign workers.
"The Temporary Foreign Worker Program is not a legitimate immigration
policy," said Ontario Federation of Labour President Sid Ryan.
"This program allows employers to drive down wages and benefits. It
exploits vulnerable workers who end up trapped in low-wage jobs with
little hope of ever becoming permanent residents despite their
contribution to our economy and our communities," Ryan said.
Today's protest is part of the Give Everyone A Chance for Canada's Future campaign launched by the United Steelworkers (USW). The campaign aims
to raise awareness of corporate abuses of the Temporary Foreign Worker
Program (TFWP) and the role it plays in the Harper government's
low-wage economic model for Canada.
"We've seen first-hand the impact that this program is having on our
communities," said Nigel Barriffe, a member of the Good Jobs for All
Coalition that works to improve living and working conditions in the
"Our community stands with labour on this issue," Barriffe said. "It's a
partnership that's going to defeat Joe Oliver and this ridiculous
Conservative movement that has been killing good jobs here in Canada."
The Harper government's recent changes to the TFWP amount to window
dressing that will not address widespread abuse of the program, said
Ken Neumann, the USW's National Director.
"By gutting the public sector, the Conservatives are ensuring there will
be no meaningful oversight and no real change to this wage-suppression
program," Neumann said. "Low-wage, highly vulnerable workers from
abroad will continue to be exploited and denied full legal protections
and a clear path to citizenship."
Abdi Dirshe, director of outreach of the iTaxiworkers association that
represents hundreds of immigrants, denounced the abuses of the TFWP.
"As an immigrant, when I came here I was in the same situation," Dirshe
said. "Workers come here and they have no rights. They should be able
to join unions, so they are not isolated, so they are not exploited
"Workers, whether they're immigrants or not, are under attack by the
Harper government. The policies the Harper government is advancing are
undercutting the rights of workers."
The TFWP's expansion and policies such as cuts to Employment Insurance
are part of the Harper Conservatives' deliberate strategy for a
low-wage economic model for Canada, said John Cartwright, President of
the Toronto and York Region Labour Council.
"These are absolutely connected, because they want workers earning lower
wages," Cartwright said.
Demonstrators denounced the Conservatives and their corporate allies for
shirking their responsibility to invest in training programs at a time
of high unemployment, particularly among youth and aboriginal
"The Harper government has abandoned its responsibility to protect
Canadians and ensure that highly vulnerable workers from abroad are not
exploited," said Carolyn Egan, President of the United Steelworkers
Toronto Area Council.
"We are demanding justice for all workers," Egan said. "We are
demonstrating outside Joe Oliver's office because he is a key member of
the Harper cabinet that works in tandem with multinational corporations
to push their low-wage economic strategy for Canada."
For more information on Give Everyone A Chance for Canada's Future, go
SOURCE: United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information:
Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada, 416-544-5951
Jackie Edwards, USW Strategic Campaigns, 416-544-5962, 416-886-0962, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, email@example.com