Monday, April 29, 2013

Twisted Priorities

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.

Twisted, indeed.


Lorne said...

Thanks for reporting on that piece, Owen. After reading the column yesterday and reflecting on the part about how the program facilitates the depression of all workers' wages, that nasty euphemism, 'a disciplined workforce,' came to mind. The abuses of the Temporary foreign Workers Program are making that term a pervasive reality in our country, yet one more reason for all voting Canadians to oust this band of brigands in the next election.

Owen Gray said...

The end of the last century -- and the beginning of this one -- has seen the rise of a new generation of Robber Barons, Lorne.

And, as was the case a hundred years ago, our leaders are unashamedly on their side.

Ck said...

Thought you may find this interesting. Unemployed Canadian IT workers speaking out regarding Temporary foreign worker program. In short, it's a scam.

Seriously, this article will make your skin crawl. Right up to fake qualifications and over embellished Resumes.

Owen Gray said...

Thanks for the link, ck. It's all about money:

"The multinational firm charges a Canadian client less per worker than the going rate here, but insiders estimate they still make a 50 per cent profit on each of their foreign workers.

In the meantime, they said, Canadians are shut out of almost all the available jobs, while others are laid off."

There has to be a special place in hell for these kind of profiteers.

It's good to hear from you again.

Anonymous said...

Not just a Harper problem, the root is - once again - corporatism.

The Myth of America's Tech-Talent Shortage and what it should mean for immigration reform.
Jordan Weissmann, The Atlantic

Owen Gray said...

Thanks for the link, Anon.

As the article suggests, "Indentured Workers Program" more accurately describes what is going on.

Anonymous said...

It is all a huge scam, always has been. Harper has just made this a, thousand times worse.

What about Harper's Omnibus Bill? Communist China has the right to sue Canada, if anyone tries to block China's invasions into Canada? China sued to take the BC mining jobs. 300 BC miners applied for the 200 mine jobs, Harper gave China. Chinese miners earn, $800 per month. What do you call that?

My sister who was in the Air Force during WW11 said to me. In Granddads day, they would have found a stout tree and a rope. That's how they dealt with Traitors, doing acts of Treason back then. The WW11 Vets say? If Harper was in a foxhole with them? He would never get out of it alive. They too say, Harper is a Traitor. I am damned sure, they are all exactly right.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

As an unemployed individual one must list each month places where you have sought work or risk losing your benefits. Makes one feel like a ciminal. I doubt if these corporations have to list every month where they have looked for Canadian workers before the bring in foreign workers.

Now unemployed people must consider employment far from home no matter how difficult that is for one particlar circumstances. I wonder if corporations have to search for Canadian workers across the country and even help them financially to relocate, with their families.

Now Canadian workers are expected to take a job at a lesser rate if that is all one can find. For seasonal workers this begins a downward spiral. Your benefits are based upon your rate of pay at your last job. If you are forced to take a postion at a lesser pay for part of this year, your assistance is at a lesser rate next time you apply. Next you may have to take a job at a lower rate again only to have your assistance calculated on that lower rate. And, on downward. Corporations should be asked to consider increasing the rate of pay for a position before they are allowed to bring in foreign workers. This would encourage a rise in pay rates rather than a decrease.

The foreign worker program was supposed to be for low skilled jobs. When it is used for higher skilled job it is particularly problematic. It avoid pressure to increase training in Canada for these positions. Industry and government should be always encouraging the community colleges to offer necessary skills programs.

If companies are bringing in temporary workers just to get trained to take the job off shore this is tantamount to stealing educational industrial advantage. It is not much different that industrial espionage which is the stealing of ideas.

Owen Gray said...

If this government was committed to the concept of equity, Philip, it might ask corporations to jump through some of the hoops it insists that EI recipients jump through.

But this government believes that unemployment is the mark of moral failure -- and corporations are, by definition, virtuous.

No, this government is firmly on the side of corporations. Workers are simply inconvenient cogs in the machine.

Owen Gray said...

Mr. Harper most assuredly feels no sense of loyalty to ordinary Canadians, Anon.