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You can help clean up TFW mess

By almost all accounts, the temporary foreign workers (TFW) program may end up being a regrettable stain on Canadian history. It appears everyone except various businesses’ balance sheets are affected in a very negative way.

It has brought out the worst in many Canadians; McCarthyism has reared its ugly head when job offers are not forthcoming and layoffs are. TFW has many loopholes, and with our current government looking for and exploiting every loophole it can find, is it any wonder that businesses would follow suit?

TFW has made life very unpleasant for temporary foreign workers, who happen to just want a better life for themselves and their families. If stories are to be believed, TFW can be a modern tool for human trafficking bordering on indentured servant status, with some comparing it to slavery.

Businesses can pay a recruiter up in the neighborhood of $2,000 to recruit foreign workers, and the recruiter can also make demands of the workers, including a percentage of paycheque, as demonstrated in B.C. news, high rents with sometimes 20 plus people sharing a house, sometimes owned directly by the recruiter. Many reports have come out about excessive work hours without pay or recompense, and no obvious means of recourse. Throw in the increasingly hostile environment they are working in with customers and their life is not a dream for most.

Canadians are not getting the jobs that historically would introduce the young to the workforce, mould their work ethic, and give them spending money. Many others are getting laid off at no fault of their own, while TFW employees are still working. Contractual obligations precipitated the layoffs of Canadians and the TFW staff will be laid off in due time according to a contract. The optics are bad and many people feel for these displaced Canadians and in some cases take it out on the foreign workers, in small ways from slight rudeness to outright contempt.

The Canadian government created the program as the best way to create a cheap global labour pool for businesses and that is it. They talk about labour shortages but if they were real free-market Conservatives, they would have let supply and demand principles figure out a solution. Perhaps a slight increase in salary or a more flexible schedule would attract more applicants?

Many experts have been warning the government of these problems, studies are disproving labour disparities, and solutions are being ignored.

How many young people would turn down a $2,000 incentive to relocate temporarily and fill in for the temporary foreign workers? How many First Nations people? How many out-of-province unemployed Canadians? There are many people unemployed, underemployed or cannot get in the workforce, partly because of this program, and they all have friends or family who feel their pain and many of them are taking it out on the foreign workers.

There are businesses abusing the program, and there are foreign workers and recruiters abusing the program, and there are many more being victimized by this same program, so what is the answer?

One answer is to not punish the workers themselves. Another answer may be to simply boycott the businesses you feel are abusing the program, because money speaks volumes to business owners. Report to authorities any abuses inflicted on the workers at work, at home or on the street that you are aware of. Perhaps report a recruiter who taking a percentage of pay or charging excessive rents or fees, and perhaps providing unhealthy living arrangements.

Perhaps it could be as simple as taking the word ‘temporary’ out of the equation, perhaps making workers permanent would ease the hostilities building up in the population, and offer a Canadian-style of living to all workers?

Communications is the key. Let people know what is happening; your family, your friends and your neighbours as word-of-mouth is a powerful tool. Collect data, itemize events and issues and write to the businesses, your paper, your member of Parliament, your mayor and your provincial representative. Talk to a foreign worker, listen to their story, and determine the truth to the best of your ability, then act.

Please do not do anything that would cause distress to a fellow human being, do not do something you will regret later. Do not do anything that would darken the stain building on our Canadian culture and history. But, do something to correct this mess created by our Canadian government, or at least pressure those who can correct this travesty of global implications.

Garfield Marks

Red Deer

 
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