Dear editor: Most aspects of the Conservative government's latest overhaul of the Temporary Foreign Workers program are to be applauded. But for some users of the program — the ones who play by the rules — the latest reforms will make things needlessly difficult.
I refer not only to the new fees but also to the complex application process, with its attendant delays in the all-too-common situation where skilled workers are needed quickly.
These effectively penalize responsible employers by forcing them to cover the costs of increased enforcement. This increased enforcement has been brought on by those who break the rules. Why should those who did not cause this problem now have to pay for it?
Let me emphasize: I am not referring to fast food outlets when I refer to the users who play by the rules. I refer to companies and unions, like our own, that use the program to plug temporary gaps in the availability of skilled workers. Without temporary foreign workers to keep projects moving forward in these situations, our own members and other Canadians would lose jobs.
This is what the Temporary Foreign Workers program was supposed to prevent.
There is no question of exploitation in our program: workers get the same wages and benefits as do our Canadian members, and their rent and transportation is paid for. They pay no commissions or other hidden charges to unscrupulous labour brokers.
The chronic mismatch of labour supply and demand is a systemic problem that should be addressed proactively and collaboratively by governments, unions and employers. What we would like to see is streamlining the rules for those who play by them.
Joseph Maloney, International Vice-President, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers