Migrante hits Canada’s ‘oppressive’ revised worker program
A FILIPINO alliance of migrant rights advocates slammed the Canadian government’s revised temporary foreign workers program (TFWP), calling it “exploitative,” “oppressive” and supposedly had no regard for the welfare of migrant workers.
Migrante Canada said the reviewed TFWP report was an imbalance between business interests and the well-being of the workforce, which it said was being treated as “commodities to be manipulated, used up, and thrown away.”
“The fact is clear from the report: government refuses to see migrant workers as human beings who were spewed out from small neo-liberal-policy-restricted economic systems and catapulted to work in larger and more “managed” and totally neo-liberal economic systems, like that of Canada,” the group said in a statement.
“It just sees the profit of Canadian businesses expanding over the bodies of workers as the song of globalization roars over it all, never mind the blood, sweat and gore that can all be swept away by bureaucrats to make some room for more workers into the system, wherever they are needed,” it added.
The group said the report showed the Canadian government’s lack of concern for human and labor rights, adding that it aimed to get the cheapest labor by making temporary foreign workers “stay temporary for the maximum amount of time.”
“So, here’s the main deception that the report employs to keep workers stuck in temporariness: let the contracts and work permits be valid from 1 year to 2 years, supposedly to ease the worry of workers. For another thing, remove the limit of 4-year stay or a penalizing 4-year ban, as if again to free the workers. However, the truth is, both changes are for the employer’s benefit, because workers still have no rights to protest abuse and exploitation. They can be treated as employers so will,” the statement read.
In 2014, the TFWP was overhauled under the previous government to include a $1,000 processing fees imposed on employers, a restriction of four years for workers to stay in Canada, and stricter onsite inspections at workplaces where temporary foreign workers were hired.
In February, MaryAnn Mihychuk, minister for employment, workforce development and labor, said she would initiate a full-scale review of the program as the previous changes were based on inaccurate employment data.
Migrante Canada also hit the report’s silence on permanent residency upon arrival, which it said was the primary call of workers and advocates who were able to speak before the committee.
“Permanent residency gives a worker a secure foothold in the Canadian democratic system. It gives the migrant worker the same protective laws and rights that the local resident-worker and citizen-worker has. It gives him the right to bring his family to Canada. It also gives him the right to unionize, allowing access to a complete system of labor laws, and presents opportunities to participate in a labor movement that can potentially push labor conditions up not down. This eradicates the need for Employment and Social Development Canada and that vague “stakeholders” sector, to invent a new system for migrant workers,” the group said.
“The question is, why not allow today’s migrant workers as landed immigrants into a well-developed political and economic system which Canada is, when a century back the government even invited migrant workers to be residents in a terribly new, volatile and immature system?” it added. YG
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.