Broaden foreign worker moratorium, Sims urges Ottawa

NDP critic said ban on restaurant use doesn't go far enough

Newton-North Delta NDP MP Jinny Sims is the Official Opposition's employment critic.

Newton-North Delta NDP MP Jinny Sims is the Official Opposition's employment critic.

The Conservative government should extend a new moratorium on the use of temporary foreign workers in restaurants to all low-skilled entry-level jobs, according to the federal NDP.

Newton-North Delta MP Jinny Sims, the Official Opposition’s employment critic, made the call May 2 at a student forum on the issue in Cloverdale at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

“You would be amazed at where temporary foreign workers are being used,” Sims told the audience of 60. “I’m not convinced we have a labour shortage and if we do it’s very, very specific to certain areas.”

Federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney last month ordered the freeze on new hiring of temporary foreign workers (TFWs) in the food services industry, citing serious concerns from a government investigation into recent allegations of inappropriate use of non-Canadians.

Sims said a broader moratorium should not apply to agricultural workers or nannies.

She also called for an independent audit of the program, which she said must be highly regulated and enforced to ensure skilled Canadians can’t do work offered to foreigners who don’t come here through immigration channels.

Enforcement of the TFW program is currently “non-existent” and set to worsen with more scheduled federal government layoffs, Sims said.

The issue has been prominent in recent weeks after revelations some McDonalds outlets in Victoria used temporary foreign workers from the Philippines instead of available Canadian workers.

Sims also cautioned that the TFW issue is creating tensions in workplaces and urged people not to jump to conclusions about who is a foreign worker.

“Every time you walk in and see a brown face working at McDonalds does not mean they are a temporary foreign worker,” she said.

McDonalds has since ended its franchisees’ use of TFWs.

A study by the C.D. Howe Institute last month found easier access to temporary foreign workers elevated unemployment rates in B.C. and Alberta between 2002 and 2012, a period during which the number of TFWs in Canada tripled to 338,000.

B.C. Restaurant and Foodservice Association president Ian Tostenson is hoping meetings with government address any concerns and lead to a quick end to the moratorium.

“We have asked them to put the brightest people in government together with industry to work out a solution,” Tostenson said. “Otherwise you are going to see businesses scale back or close.”

He said the public wrongly assumes TFWs are used to save money, when they are paid the same as Canadian workers.

The main reason for their use, he said, is the lack of enough local workers willing to work at the times required, which can be around the clock in fast-food restaurants.

Just because there are idle workers in an area doesn’t mean a given business can use them, he added.

Tostenson said many people seeking jobs aren’t interested in working in quick-service restaurants.

Controversies over temporary foreign workers are not new.

TFWs from Latin America were used to build the Canada Line but were paid less than other labourers, resulting in a dispute that ended in the ordering of special payments of $50,000 per worker.

– Jeff Nagel @jeffnagel

Just Posted

PlanCultus was adopted in 2017 as a guiding document for Cultus Lake Park. (Cultus Lake Park Board)
More affordable housing options could be coming to Cultus Lake Park

Online survey opened on June 14 to gauge opinion on plaza redevelopment eyed for Village Centre

The Abbotsford International Airshow is back for 2021 with the ‘SkyDrive’ concept.
Abbotsford International Airshow returns for 2021 with ‘SkyDrive’

New format features a drive-in movie type experience, show set for Aug. 6 to 8

A young couple walks through the Othello Tunnels just outside of Hope. (Jessica Peters/Black Press)
Hope’s Othello Tunnels fully open to the public

Geological testing proved the area safe enough to open for the first time in more than a year

Raeya Evie Duncan was the 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital for the month of May. She is seen here with her parents Alysha Williams and Andrew Duncan on June 12, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Baby boom in Chilliwack as record number of infants born at CGH in May

‘COVID babies are coming out,’ says dad of 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital last month

Syringes prepared with Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination site in Long Beach, Calif., Friday, March 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Walk-ins welcome at upcoming G.W. Secondary vaccine clinic

Second consecutive Saturday Fraser Health has scheduled a same-day clinic in a Chilliwack school

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
VIDEO: Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens as Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents the province’s latest budget, April 20, 2021. The budget projects $19 billion in deficits over three years. (Hansard TV)
B.C. government budget balloons, beyond COVID-19 response

Provincial payroll up 104,000 positions, $10 billion since 2017

Ocean debris is shown on Long Beach in Tofino, B.C. on April, 18, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Shoreline cleanup finds COVID-related trash increased during height of the pandemic

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup reports litter from single-use food packaging nearly doubled

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Doctor David Vallejo and his fiancee Doctor Mavelin Bonilla hold photos of themselves working, as they kiss at their home in Quito, Ecuador, Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Doctor Vallejo and Doctor Bonilla suspended their wedding in order to tend to COVID-19 patients and in the process Vallejo got sick himself with the disease, ending up in an ICU for several days. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)
Love, sacrifice and surviving COVID-19: one couple’s story

COVID hits Ecuadorian doctors who delayed wedding to treat sick

Cover of the 32-page Surrey First Peoples Guide for Newcomers, created and compiled by Jeska Slater.
New ‘Surrey First Peoples Guide for Newcomers’ seeks to ‘uplift and amplify’ voices

32-page guide launched Tuesday by Surrey Local Immigration Partnership (LIP)

West Coast Duty Free president Gary Holowaychuk stands next to empty shelves inside his store on Tuesday (June 15). (Aaron Hinks photo)
Revenue down 97% at Surrey duty free as owner waits for U.S. border to reopen

Products approaching best before dates had to be donated, others destroyed

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation to search residential school site for unmarked graves

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Most Read