Wednesday April 15
Meet at the Finlayson/Douglas bus stop (Mayfair Mall corner) to leaflet and collect petition signatures. BBQ to follow at the BCGEU building before the VLC General Meeting.
In 2010, 182,276 temporary foreign workers (TFWs) entered Canada, compared to just 110,861 in 2002. Combined with those TFWs still in Canada last year, there is reported to be close to 500,000 TFWs working in Canada today.
BC takes a disproportionately large snare of the temporary workers, with just under 5o,ooo arriving in 2012- or close to a quarter of the national total-even though BC only has about 13 percent of the population. In BC, there are currently more than 70,000 workers under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
The TFW Program was originally designed to attract skilled employees, agricultural workers and live-in caregivers to address temporary labour shortages. More recently, the program has shifted to providing a new supply of less-skilled workers for the food and beverage, construction, and retail industries.
"There was no evidence of any particular labour shortage in those occupations at the time," said Jason Foster, an Athabasca University academic coordinator who has researched the program's transformation. "It was simply a matter of trying to provide these employers with other labour supply options in terms of how to address their labour concerns."
While economic theory would suggest that employers should increase wages to incent workers to enter the workforce or move to their worksite, the use of the TFW Program provides a ready supply of workers, such that employers are not required to adjust wages to meet the demands of the Canadian labour market.
Foster said Western Canada's economic boom during the early 2000s did result in labour shortages in certain industries·, such as construction, but the trend was not universal. When the global recession nit in 2008, the expected drop-off in temporary foreign workers never happened.
Temporary Foreign Workers are beholden to the company they work for because their work permit-and thus their "right" to be in Canada-is employer-specific. They do not have the right to switch jobs if they are treated poorly, or receive a better offer from another local employer. If they raise concerns about safety or working conditions, they are often sent home.