McDonald’s restaurants put foreign worker program on hold, conducts audit

McDonald’s Canada is putting its temporary foreign workers program on hold while a third party conducts an audit on its use of the plan.

VICTORIA — McDonald’s Canada is putting its temporary foreign workers program on hold while a third party conducts an audit on its use of the plan.

Stung by recent criticism of its use of foreign workers, the restaurant chain’s vice-president of human resources Len Jillard said Wednesday the firm needs to pause the plan to prove to Canadians it is not abusing the program or its workers.

Jillard, in an exclusive interview with The Canadian Press, said McDonald’s has already informed the federal government about its plans, including federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney.

“The reason why we’re doing that is we want to communicate to everyone we’re taking this very seriously,” Jillard said. “We’re taking a pause. We’re making sure that we’ve got everything in order, which I’m convinced we have.”

Three McDonald’s franchises in Victoria and a pizza restaurant in Weyburn, Sask., are at the centre of program abuse allegations involving Canadian employees alleging foreign workers were given priority work status and in some cases took their jobs.

McDonald’s is in the process of taking full ownership of the three Victoria franchises from the Victoria operator who previously held an 80 per cent share in the three outlets.

Jillard said the company was setting up the terms of reference for the third-party analysis, but hadn’t yet hired the firm that would do the work.

“It’s responsible for us as a reinforcement of our core value of being responsible, ethical and caring for our employees that we take this pause right now.”

In Winnipeg Wednesday, Kenney warned that employers who abuse the temporary foreign workers program could face fraud charges and possible jail time.

The minister said the federal government believes the number of abusers is small, but penalties can be strong.

“If an employer lies on their application for this program … that could constitute fraud, potentially, under the Immigration Act, which is a criminal offence punishable with jail time or very severe penalties,” Kenney said when asked about the program during a news conference on job-training.

“We’re putting, I think, the small number of abusive, bad employers on notice that we won’t tolerate that.”

The government is investigating several recent cases, including at the Weyburn restaurant where two long-time waitresses said they were fired and replaced with government-approved temporary foreign workers.

The program is supposed to be used when there are no local residents available for job openings.

Kenney said a bill now before Parliament would make it easier to impose administrative penalties on employers who break the rules. He also said the government has beefed up the program requirements to help prevent abuse.

“We’ve extended the advertising requirements for employers, we ensure that they pay what’s called the prevailing regional wage rate, which is effectively often more than what starting local employees get paid, and we’re now charging employers fees when they apply for the program.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Canopy Growth Corp. will deepen its U.S. presence by launching four sparkling cannabidiol waters, shown in a handout photo, there before possible federal legalization. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Canopy Growth
Canopy Growth launches first CBD drinks in U.S. as legalization talk intensifies

Quatreau sparkling waters will be sold through e-commerce

A nurse assistant prepares a dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 during a priority vaccination program for health workers at a community medical center in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Andre Penner
Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 needs better promotion: experts

National Advisory Committee on Immunization makes recommendations

A man receives his COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at Olympic Stadium marking the beginning of mass vaccination in the Province of Quebec based on age in Montreal, on Monday, March 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Most Canadians confident federal vaccine rollout is back on track: poll

Fifty-six per cent of respondents confident in vaccine supply

Air Transat and Air Canada aircraft are seen on the tarmac at Montreal-Trudeau International Airport in Montreal, on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
International air travel a fraction of pre-pandemic times

International air travel during pandemic less than a 10th of what it was before COVID-19

Red Deer dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2020, file photo, former NBA player Shaquille O’ Neal is interviewed on the red carpet for Shaq’s Fun House in Miami. O’Neal is set to perform in his first competitive match when he teams in All Elite Wrestling with Jade Cargill in a mixed tag to take on Cody Rhodes and Red Velvet at Daily’s Place on an episode of “Dynamite,” Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)
Shaq Attack: O’Neal ready to rumble in tag match for AEW

O’Neal’s first competitive match with All Elite Wrestling

Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee President Seiko Hashimoto, center, speaks during a Tokyo 2020 executive board meeting in Tokyo, Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara, Pool)
Tokyo Olympics add 12 women to executive board to reach 42 per cent

Board will now have 19 women among its 45 members

The Stratford Festival’s Festival Theatre is shown in Stratford, Ont., on May 28, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Robins
Stratford Festival plans next stages with two outdoor summer venues

Ontario festival productions set for between late June and the end of September

Treena Mielke
From record player to CD

When I first began dating my husband, he drove a little old… Continue reading

Opinion
Ottawa banks on Big Pharma making Canada pandemic-proof

Liberal fireball François-Philippe Champagne may be brand new to his portfolio as… Continue reading

Dr. W. Gifford-Jones
Health: Keep blood pressure under control

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “You must do the things you think you… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Kailer Yamamoto (56) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Morgan Rielly (44) reach for the rebound from Leafs goalie Michael Hutchinson (30) during second-period NHL action in Edmonton on Monday, March 1, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Michael Hutchinson earns 31-save shutout, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 3-0

Michael Hutchinson earns 31-save shutout, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 3-0

Most Read