Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Wednesday he wants to ensure the temporary foreign work program operates “on the basis of Canadians first” in light of concerns raised about permits granted to Chinese miners at a B.C. coal mine.
“Companies cannot access foreign workers unless or until they have demonstrated to the government that they have advertised the job in Canada, offering it to any qualified Canadians,” Kenney told QMI Agency.
“We never want to give jobs away to foreign workers if qualified Canadians are available and applying for them.”
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada is now looking investigating why the work permits were granted to about 200 mine workers.
Employees who wish to hire temporary foreign workers must apply for a “labour market opinion” from Service Canada that assesses “the impact the foreign worker would have on Canada’s labour market.”
“Concerns have come to light, subsequent to these labour market opinions being approved, for that particular mine, that Mandarin was listed as a work requirement,” Kenney said. “I understand HRSDC is taking a look at that to see if that was a valid work requirement.”
The federal NDP has called for an “immediate suspension” of the permits and wants a full investigation to see if Canadian workers were given an opportunity to apply for the positions.
NDP immigration critic Jinny Sims also worries about how Canada’s temporary foreign worker system operates under the Conservative government.
“This government has made it so much easier … to bring in temporary foreign workers,” she said. “There’s a huge incentive. You can pay them up to 15% less.
“When you bring in these employees … the power balance shifts. They’re not going to be there to advocate for their rights.”
The Canadian Labour Congress and other unions have also hammered the feds for approving of the work permits, saying Canadian workers need long-term employment.