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Jason Kenney on hot seat as controversy rages over temporary foreign workers

OTTAWA — Jason Kenney is coming under fire in the House of Commons over the government’s controversial temporary foreign worker program.

Amid allegations that some employers — fast-food restaurants in particular — have been abusing the program, Kenney is defending his move to temporarily ban the food services sector from the program.

Under attack from the NDP, Kenney says he receives more requests from the New Democrats to facilitate the entry of temporary foreign workers than he does any other party.

He says he’s intent on ensuring that employers everywhere should hire Canadians first, but notes that companies should hike wages if necessary to attract workers.

Kenney has been hailed among some cabinet colleagues for forging a deal with the provinces and territories on the contentious Canada Job Grant, but some say his reputation is taking a beating on temporary foreign workers.

Liberal John McCallum, the party’s immigration critic, says the controversy is resonating with all Canadians at a time of relatively high unemployment.

Peter Woolstencroft, a political science professor at the University of Waterloo, describes the temporary foreign worker file as being “impregnated with bad optics.”

 
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