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Newspaper article

Group pushes for permanent residency status for temporary foreign workers

Date

2014-08-20

Authors

Tyler Dawson

Abstract

EDMONTON - A group supporting temporary foreign workers had stern words for federal politicians on Tuesday, likening government changes to the program to the abuses of migrant workers in the early 20th century.

Newspaper title

Edmonton Journal

Full text

EDMONTON - A group supporting temporary foreign workers had stern words for federal politicians on Tuesday, likening government changes to the program to the abuses of migrant workers in the early 20th century.

“We feel very strongly that it is a violation of human rights,” said spokeswoman Clarizze Truscott. “These atrocities are happening again today (to) temporary foreign workers.”

The Temporary Foreign Workers Support Coalition was founded in May. To date, the group said it has met with New Democrat Linda Duncan, the member of Parliament for Edmonton-Strathcona, and Ontario Liberal MP John McCallum.

“He reassured us that he will push to extend work permits of temporary foreign workers who have pending (Alberta Immigration Nominee Program) applications,” Truscott said. “The delay is really hurting them because while they’re waiting for results, their current work status is running out.”

Truscott said this means workers could end up being in the country illegally if they don’t have permission to work, but their applications haven’t been processed. The group said that getting permanent residency status for temporary foreign workers is “essential” and that the coalition will continue pushing for it.

“We are calling on all politicians ... to support the just and humane treatment of temporary foreign workers,” Truscott said.

Truscott said that requests to meet with Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney were refused.

“The group in question wanted to meet with Minister Kenney the day they were protesting outside his constituency office, but Minister Kenney was not in Calgary that day,” said spokesman Nick Koolsbergen in an email.

In June, the federal government announced sweeping changes to the temporary foreign worker program, including bans on hiring them in areas with high unemployment and limiting the number of temporary foreign workers in low-wage positions.

Though Duncan is not the NDP critic on the issue, she said her party has concerns over Canadian workers being replaced by temporary foreign workers, but is still concerned with treatment of temporary foreign workers.

“At the same time we want to make sure Canadian workers get the opportunity to work, we want to make sure the temporary foreign workers aren’t abused and are treated fairly,” said Duncan.

“Instead of bringing in people in essentially the slave trade,” the government should allow more immigrants in the first place, Duncan said.

“If you’re going to keep extending the contract, you’re not temporary anymore, so essentially what you’re doing then is letting people who come in on ‘temporary’ work permits get ahead of the line of people who actually want to immigrate.”

Links

Keywords

human rights, Temporary Foreign Workers, government, program

Economic sectors

Home child care providers and General farm workers

Content types

Support initiatives

Target groups

Public awareness and NGOs/community groups/solidarity networks

Geographical focuses

Alberta

Languages

English