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This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Beef up BC training programs before turning to temporary foreign workers

The winner of last week’s duel on farmland was Laila with 72%.

This week’s topic:

Should temporary foreign workers be allowed in B.C.’s LNG industry?

For a premier so committed to providing jobs for British Columbians, the irony of Christy Clark’s trip to Ottawa — liquefied natural gas industry executives in tow — in part to ensure the federal government would continue its controversial Temporary Foreign Worker Program, is stark.

It’s a bright red flag waving in the faces of all Canadians when two levels of government sign an agreement that relies on a program that is rife with blatant abuse and exploitation.

Wherever you look in B.C., you will find temporary foreign workers. They pick crops, build our transportation systems and fill jobs in remote locations. More often than not, they are significantly underpaid, bereft of benefits and exploited in working conditions regular workers wouldn’t tolerate. They rarely speak up, unless conditions are so bad or unfair that to remain silent is not an option.

Read Brent Stafford’s column

Clearly, the premier didn’t do her homework when it comes to her own government’s record for skills training in this province. In 2004, the BC Liberals dismantled the Industry Training and Apprentice Commission and replaced it with the Industry Training Authority. The new authority laid off apprenticeship counsellors, put more emphasis on apprentices managing themselves, and cut funding hours for training programs, according to the Federal of Post-secondary Educators of B.C….

READ the rest of this weeks column, comment and vote at:


*** Thanks to a reader who sent this pointed cartoon along today!


  1. Should they be allowed in?

    Yes. The straightforward response is: certainly, if they can do the job more efficiently cost-wise than British Columbians can. But that would ignore the point that the best way to increase dismal Canadian productivity levels and thus eventually generate jobs locally is to reduce government interference in the labour markets. Quit regulating.

    Shouldn’t it be up to EMPLOYERS who they hire?


  2. Shouldn’t it be up to EMPLOYERS who they hire?

    Not if the companies don’t even try to find the right people for the job IN CANADA !!!
    When employers will not train people for jobs e.g. apprentices, then they try the easy way out and hire foreign workers for less money than they would pay a Canadian doing the same job. Let us not forget the provincial and federal governments must shoulder their part of the blame for not have an active apprenticeship training scheme.

    It seems to me that the employers – whoever they are, just want the easy way out and in doing so, the average Canadian is ignored or worse still, being pushed aside for greed (lower wages).

    While I think of it, don’t confuse the issue with the current McDonalds fiasco where the employer has been caught out by the federal government and these are not even skilled workers. The issues are different though the end result is the same – Canadians getting short changed by their own governments.


    • Here is a telling link to a story done last year, that includes a full list of ”
      all employers who have successfully participated in Human Resources and Skills Development Canada’s Labour Market Opinion process, meaning they are legally authorized to hire Temporary Foreign Workers in Canada. The documents reflects all applications made to Ottawa over a two-year period ending June 2012.

      Appearing on this list does not necessarily mean that the employer took the additional step of bringing in a foreign worker through the department of Citizenship and Immigration. Instead, it offers a window into how widespread the practice of using temporary foreign workers has become.

      Companies on the list include restaurants like Tim Hortons, McDonald’s and Subway, and banks like RBC Dominion Securities, BMO Financial Group and ING Direct Canada.”

      It starts with Alberta,you have to scroll down at least 1/4 to get to the BC companies. Quite an eye-opener.

      I called for a halt to the program and a full audit on every company who is using foreign workers,to ensure what happened in McDonalds on the island, isn’t happening elsewhere as well. And keep in mind that TFW are not always from poorer countries, we have them in BC from Australia, Ireland and the UK.

      Clearly in the McDonalds case, it’s not a matter of skilled labour, but regardless, Kenny stated the the applicant gave false information. Well, who is checking? Who is following up?

      My concern with regards to LNG relates to a number if items: the number of jobs relating to any plants that may or may not get built is likely to be far far less than Premier Clark has stated.

      Secondly, we don’t know the nature of the non-binding agreement BC signed with the feds. Knowing Christy, the agreement that expedites the application process for TFWS, may apply to more than just skilled labour, it may not. But the continuation of the program does not give any incentive to either the provincial governments or companies to change the way they currently operate.

      I’m not the only one who thinks this way, as you will read at this link:


  3. I do not have a big problem with foreign workers. I have a big problem with temporary forgeign workers. If or when we need a job, skill or manager and we do not have a Canadian who can do it, the foreign worker should be brought in with status such as landed immigrant so that if he is treated unfairly, he is free to move to another employer or start his own business. Temporary worker rules expose them to unscrupulous employers.

    Disclosure – my family came here as a foreign (American) worker, but a landed immigrant. If my father had felt he was a pawn, he could have done something about it with no more than the apprehension that anybody has who quits and changes his job.


    • I agree. The program is being used to circumvent the regular immigration process. My family were landed immigrants as well. I don’t think that’s unusual in this great melting pot of a country,and sadly we have so many incredibly skilled immigrants here already who for one reason or another,aren’t able to use their skills- yet another issue that needs to be addressed.


  4. My answer to your question is no. Why not train actual BC residents?

    But I would question the sanity of the LNG export idea to begin with.

    Fracking for gas uses energy and pollutes water. Piping the gas to Prince Rupert uses energy. Turning it into LNG uses a whole lot of energy. Shipping LNG 7,000 km across the Pacific Ocean uses more energy. Regasifying uses energy. At what point are we expending more energy to produce and transport LNG than we get out of it?


  5. What Canada needs most these days is high quality domestic political leadership. Unfortunately though, it’s not looking as though Canada possesses the ingredients required to make it.


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