B.C. workers must be first in line for construction jobs and apprenticeship opportunities, but the provincial government does not track temporary foreign workers in our economy, says Opposition leader John Horgan.
The Opposition supports the call for a federal review of the TFW program and a new provincial registry to track numbers and sectors of temporary workers in B.C.
“We’re hearing that the temporary foreign worker program is taking jobs away from British Columbians in the construction industry, but the full impact on people is unknown,” said Horgan. “The provincial government needs to start tracking temporary workers so we can see how many jobs and apprenticeship opportunities for young British Columbians are being lost.
“Temporary workers are part of the reason that less than half of trades training students finish their certifications. 80 per cent of an apprentice’s time is spent on the job. If entry level positions for apprentices are going to temporary foreign workers, B.C. workers can’t get trained.”
By December 2014, the number of temporary foreign workers in B.C. increased to 84,000. For the size of our economy, B.C. still has more TFWs than any other province.
“Since the province doesn’t monitor the use of foreign workers, we only have anecdotal evidence to go on, but we need to know if there is still widespread use of the program in the construction industry,” said Horgan.
“Premier Christy Clark needs to honour her commitment to put B.C. workers first by reviewing the effect of this program on B.C.”
Horgan is also supporting the call by the Labourers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) and the B.C. Building Trades for a federal parliamentary review of the TFW program on Western Canada’s construction industry. LiUNA contends that the impact of the program on the construction industry was left out of the recent federal parliamentary review, which released its report and recommendations on September 19.
According to LiUNA’s White Paper, B.C. has the worst record for using and abusing temporary foreign workers in the construction industry. The report points to shameful episodes involving exploited foreign workers on the Canada Line, Golden Ears Bridge, and by HD Mining.
The Opposition Caucus has long supported permanent residency for all temporary foreign workers, said MLA Mable Elmore, the Opposition’s spokesperson for immigration and TFWs.
“Temporary foreign workers are often bound to their employers, which gives them few options, makes them vulnerable to exploitation, and distorts the labour market for everyone by dragging down standards,” said Elmore. “The temporary foreign worker program is inferior to permanent immigration.
“We agree with the labour movement that the right thing to do is give all temporary workers permanent residency.
“If they’re good enough to work here, they’re good enough to stay.”