British Columbia Premier, Christy Clark, caused quite a stir last month by accusing federal politicians of having “tragically misdirected” policies regarding the temporary foreign workers program. Clark is currently pushing for the thousands of skilled workers required for upcoming liquefied natural gas projects that Clark has envisioned.
In her recent speech addressing the province’s business community, Clark made her stance clear ahead of the government’s return to the legislature and the introduction of LNG laws.
Her main message at the Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon was that Ottawa leaders need to stop “playing politics” in regards to the already controversial program.
Clark said: “We should not think about people who come from across the world to British Columbia to work as being something less than the rest of us. So, my advice to federal politicians is this: If you want to fix the temporary foreign workers program, maybe they should start with changing the name.”
She continued: “Call them ‘potential new Canadians,’ because they’re coming here to help us build our country.”
Clark isn’t the first to recommend a rethink on the program’s name: a month previously, R. Reis Pagtakhan (a lawyer with over 18 years of experience, said: “It is time that the federal government should call the temporary foreign worker program what it really is – a probationary permanent residency program.”
The Premier’s opinion is backed by other western leaders who have shown their own criticisms of the federal government’s latest program overhaul, and the main argument is that the latest rules are “too onerous” for provinces who are already facing labour shortages.
Back in June, Jason Kenney, Federal Employment Minister, set out his plans to limit the number of foreign workers that can be hired by large and medium-size businesses. Kenny also imposed tougher penalties for businesses that are found to be violating the rules, along with new ordered inspections to provide a further deterrent for rule breakers.
As it stands, the temporary foreign workers program is supposed to help employers to fill only short-term gaps in the province’s labor market, at least in the federal immigration department’s eyes.
The Citizenship and Immigration Canada site states: “Most temporary foreign workers are limited to working in Canada for four years before having to return to their home country.”
At the moment it’s unclear how Clark’s comments will meet up with the current temporary nature of the foreign workers program, and she has said to reporters that she could not provide figures on the proportion of the economy that will need to depend on temporary foreign workers.
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