Federal Election Q&A

Kootenay Columbia Candidates discuss the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

  • Sep. 24, 2015 7:00 a.m.

What, if any, changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker program will you advocate for in order to help support tourism in the region? Or what is alternative solution to businesses in our region that cannot find the staff they need to operate at full capacity?

Bill Green:

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program was established to address short-term problems, but there is no quick fix to most of our labour shortages.

The Green Party’s labour market strategy focuses on long-term solutions:

– education and skills training.

– a Guaranteed Livable Income to provide everyone with an income above the poverty line.

– bringing in foreign workers as future Canadians – not as temporary, vulnerable employees.

We will remove financial barriers to education, apprenticeships and skills training by eliminating tuition fees and capping student debt.

A guaranteed income will allow people to live and work in their home communities, even on minimum-wage jobs, which will ease staff shortages in tourism and service sectors.

Finally, Canada needs immigrants and their families who become permanent, valued contributors to Canadian society. The immigration process must be tailored to meet our labour needs.

Don Johnston:

Staffing seasonal industries and ensuring younger workers secure dependable employment are both nationwide concerns. We need to address both. Conservative mismanagement led to TFWP entrants increasing from 141,000 in 2005 to 338,000 in 2012 and abuses of this program drives down wages and displaces Canadian workers.

Liberals believe those who want to work in Canada should have a pathway to citizenship. We will return the TFWP to its original purpose: filling jobs when qualified Canadians cannot be found and then complement it with employment programs.  We will increase the Labour Market Development Agreement by $500 million annually to support regional job retention, waive Employers EI premiums when they hire 18-24 year olds, support college co-op jobs, expand Pre-Apprenticeship Training, and create a 3 year $300 million Youth Employment Strategy aimed at creating 40,000 jobs each year.

Combining TFWP benefits with other employment strategies has longer term value.

Wayne Stetski:

In typical Harper fashion, the Conservative ‘fix’ to the problem with the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program did little to address the real issue.  While we experienced serious issues with abuses of some foreign workers right here in the Kootenays, overall, the ‘solution’ to the problem has made it very difficult for businesses in the area to get the workers they need, and didn’t actually protect the foreign workers that are here.

I have spoken with numerous small business owners who are now struggling to get enough workers to keep their businesses open. We clearly need a new approach that meets the needs of both those seeking employment in Canada and the businesses that want to hire them.

David Wilks:

New measures under the low skilled worker program were implemented in 2014 after abuses to the system were identified.  These new rules are meant to ensure that Canadians have jobs first.  These changes did however have a significant effect on communities in Kootenay-Columbia who are tourism based and cannot find enough local workers to fill the jobs.  I will continue to meet with the Minister to express the concerns of local businesses and work toward a solution.

Christine Yahn:

I would like to see a streamlined process so that foreign workers are able to take part in programs such a the foreign worker program. Its a common issue for employers to access reliable workers and I think we should be doing whatever we can to aid in allowing the process of applicants to be as simple as possible.

 

Golden Star