This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Broken Temporary Foreign Worker Program needs overhaul to protect Canadians and foreign workers

The winner of last week’s duel on e-cigarettes was Brent with 53%.

This week’s topic:

Should the federal government temporarily suspend the entire Temporary Foreign Worker Program?

Earlier this spring, Brent and I debated whether or not temporary foreign workers should be allowed in B.C.’s liquefied natural gas industry. At that time, I made it clear I don’t support this program with so many British Columbians out of work. Little did either of us know at that time what a tempest this issue was to become.

The same weekend that our Duel went to press, news headlines broke with the story of some Vancouver Island McDonald’s allegedly abusing the federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program, followed quickly by similar revelations across the country. Skip to today and the country is now hearing complaints from highly skilled helicopter pilots claiming they are unable to find work because of the same program.

I suspect what is now known may only be the tip of the iceberg. Flagrant abuses of the program have only become public because of company whistleblowers — the possibility exists that many more companies are abusing this program since the government hasn’t been applying the proper checks and balances this program desperately requires.

Read Brent Stafford’s column

In response to the revelations of rampant abuse in the restaurant industry, the government instituted a moratorium for TFWs in the food sector — a move that has garnered criticism as some restaurants say they might have to close due to a lack of staff. The government has promised to crack down and tighten up the program. I think what needs to happen is a temporary suspension of the entire program so it can be revamped — or scrapped…

READ the rest of this weeks column, comment and vote for who you think should win this week at


8 thoughts on “This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Broken Temporary Foreign Worker Program needs overhaul to protect Canadians and foreign workers

  1. After reading Mike Smyth’s column yesterday of the young man who blew the whistle on his franchisee employer who WAS operating three McDonalds in Victoria it had me taking another look at TFW, not at the McDonald level, but higher up the food chain: The Wickaninnish Inn, Fairmont Chateau Whistler, Manteo Resort (Kelowna) and Poet’s Cover Resort and Spa. GO2HR website has this article with An International Solution to a Local staffing crisis

    Google Search Wickaninnish Inn jobs TFW Temporary Foreign Workers


  2. This isn’t only happening in the fast-food industry…Sunwing Vacations staffs some of its planes in the busy winter season with TFWs, as do several helicopter firms during the summer


  3. The corporate abuses of our country and citizens have no end. We need governments that are not bought with transnational criminal corporate dollars. NO CORPORATE FINANCING OF OUR ELECTIONS.


  4. One thing I haven’t picked up in the news stories is taxation information. Do the TFWs pay federal and provincial income taxes at the same rate as their fellow (Canadian) workers?

    I’ll assume no E.I. premiums, as surely they couldn’t collect on it… though my own sons paid into E.I. when they were at high school and worked at McD’s — even though they were unable to collect benefits, as they were going to school full-time, thus “unemployable.” (Another scam.)

    How about medicare? What to TFWs do when they require medical help?


  5. the TFW program is simply a method to bring workers into the country who employers can force to work for less, these employers make their money in this country but don’t want to hire canadians. It is time it stopped. Canadians themselves also are to blame. they continued to vote for a party which encouraged temporary foreign workers. these same voters cheered when the conservatives fired 10K workers. what they didn’t notice was when these workers were all fired, there was no one to check the applications from employers to see if in fact they had done anything to find canadian workers.
    employers set wages so low that people may not apply. these employers then turn around and say they can’t find workers. what these employers are doing is setting conditions which Canadians won’t accept and then they bring in foreign workers, who gave little or no alternatives in their home countries. it is brining every one down to the level of 3rd world countries. Employers don’t understand, if they don’t supply jobs which pay a living wage, no one will be left to buy their products.

    canadians need to take a strong position regarding the foreign worker programs and the continued transfer of Canadian jobs to other countries. Harper and his ilk may not do anything about it but civic and provincial government officials can at least speak out about it. remember, when people don’t work, their children become impoverished.

    if employers can’t make a go of their businesses while paying living wages, perhaps they, the employers need to find something else to do.


  6. The TFW program is probably a good idea, however, its implementation and monitoring is suspect .
    At the near end, virtually all employers will take the path of least resistance to obtain workers. TFW is a captive worker that is unfairly jeopardized by an employer due to an absence of choice for the worker.
    At the far end, the TFW program expansion will in short order create it’s own culture. In this sense, employers come to relate to the program as a normal course of business development. The downside to/for Canadian workers is immediate and only compounds an already high unemployment rate in Canada.
    The media and business interests are fond of extolling the specialized need stories, the key word being specialized. If a Company has exhausted it’s effort to fill a defined specialized need, then by all means, the TFW is a good fit.
    This is not the reality for most. Employments are at the low end of the spectrum, often seasonal in nature and offer no advancement potential. In simple terms, a stop gap solution for an employers to “get by”.
    Companies fail for many reasons. Arguing that the taxpayer and federal government should be responsible for providing “cheap and easy” access to already vulnerable workers and then placing them in a position of vulnerability is unconscionable.
    The reality is that some of these Companies should fail and not be artificially propped up with Federal assistance.
    I am sympathetic for many Companies and business owners in the main, what I do not support is the “bandwagon” effect this program has created. Typical of many governments and their leaders, is a growing tendency to win the “quick fix” and claim victory. This style of leadership is increasingly evident at all levels of government. It takes more than a “30 second” sound bite to claim sound public policy.
    The TFW program is not sound public policy.


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