The Harper government is a nasty piece of work. Its twisted priorities now permeate the Canadian economy. Those priorities are best illustrated by the temporary foreign workers program. Originally established in boom times to help alleviate labour shortages, the Harperites have used the program to cudgel Canadian workers. Haroon Siddiqui writes in the Toronto Star:
Under Stephen Harper’s watch, temporary foreign workers have tripled, from 140,000 to 338,000. The total may be more like 500,000, if you add those who may have gone underground at the end of their temporary visas, plus the refugee claimants and foreign students who have work permits.
This at a time when there are 1.3 million unemployed, a high percentage of them educated young Canadians who are having trouble landing their first job. Also, too many of the 250,000 immigrants that Harper is bringing every year by the normal route cannot find jobs commensurate with the education and skills for which they were selected.
This makes sense only as a policy to depress wages across the board, weaken worker rights and make it easy for businesses that barely look for Canadians to fill vacancies, let alone train new hires. Between 2007 and 2011, nearly a third of all net new jobs were filled with temporary workers.
It is that last sentence which bears repeating: a third of the new jobs created have gone to temporary foreign workers. If you think the Harper government is working for you, think again. Siddiqui writes:
Most temporary foreign workers are not allowed to bring families or apply for permanent immigration status. Many are abused at work. “There are countless harrowing stories from thousands of people facing threats from employers and labour brokers, toiling on poverty wages in unsafe work places and living in horrendous conditions,” says Karl Flecker of Canadian Labour Congress. Given that, most have little commitment to Canada.
Permanent immigrants do. More than 80 per cent become citizens. Even if they don’t do well, their children do and become productive citizens. That’s why our immigration policy has been a successful citizenship policy.
But Jason Kenney, minister of immigration and citizenship, has reduced himself to the role of chief headhunter for businesses.
The Harperites work for Canada's business elite. That's the same business elite which buys clothing from Bangladesh and pays those who make the clothing $38 a month -- before the building burns down or collapses.