McDonald’s abuse allegations in Victoria offset the review
By Angela Espinoza, News Editor
On April 24, a cross-country moratorium (temporary suspension) of the temporary foreign worker (TFW) program went into effect. The moratorium was set partially in response to reports of TFW abuse and fraud regarding three McDonald’s franchises in Victoria, all owned by one Glen Bishop, back in March.
Employment Minister Jason Kenney made the call to have a moratorium on the TFW program. In a public statement addressing the suspension and the McDonald’s abuse claims, Kenney said, “Allegations of misuse will continue to be investigated… and those employers who are found to have lied about their efforts to hire Canadians could face potential criminal prosecution with sanctions that include fines and jail time.”
The TFW program, which began in 1973, initially only applied to agricultural jobs, live-in caregiver positions, and high-skill careers, such as education. In 2002 however, the program was extended to allow TFWs opportunities to work low-skill jobs, such as food service and construction. It allows employers to hire foreign employees for jobs that have been unfilled in Canada.
The McDonald’s abuse claim also follows the Royal Bank of Canada’s attempt at replacing a number of Canadian staff with TFWs around the same time last year. Where the McDonald’s “abuse” claims indicate that TFWs were given priority hours over domestic staff, RBC is alleged to have had domestic employees train their under-qualified replacements.
A processing fee of $275 for each “lower-skilled occupations” worker application was put into place in 2013. While mostly major companies were caught taking advantage of the TFW program, many feel that suspending the program until further notice throughout the country is overkill. The suspension largely affects restaurants, kitchens, and fast-food establishments from employing TFWs, although the entire program could be reviewed.
Now many foreign workers are faced with being unable to renew their work permits, while businesses may have to contend with being understaffed.
The Globe and Mail released an article on May 2 outlining basic information on the TFW program and how it’s currently being affected by the moratorium. Amongst other things, graphs outlining the influx of TFWs in Canada over the past 10 years show that the number of temporary foreign workers has gone from just under 200,000 in 2002 to just under 500,000 in 2012.
While it would be a stretch to assume there are 330,000 people currently out of work right now, a substantial number of TFWs may be forced out of Canada while the moratorium is in effect.