Don Martin: Kenney to unveil renamed TFW program that favours skilled workers
Minister of Employment and Social Development Jason Kenney responds during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Wednesday May 14, 2014 . (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Friday, May 23, 2014 5:50PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 23, 2014 7:38PM EDT
In the next few weeks, the government will try to painkill away its worst policy migraine.
Sources say Employment Minister Jason Kenney will unleash a renamed temporary foreign workers program with two conflicting objectives.
He'll aim to preserve the part of the program which red-carpets skilled technical or executive talent which cannot be easily found in Canada.
And he will lay down a bed of nails to discourage unskilled workers from entering Canada as indentured servants.
To that end, he will boost application fees for imported labour certificates and may impose pay premiums to neutralize the cost advantage of foreign help. Then he'll beef up monitoring to crack down on program abuses.
Small business owners and restaurant managers will howl.
They will argue, correctly, the moves create a new set of problems. Some establishments dependent on the program will close. The costs of goods or services could rise. And there may develop the queasy optics of foreign workers earning more than Canadians in the same job.
But saving the status quo is not an option. This has gone beyond seasonal dependence in the agriculture industry to a staffing addiction in the hospitality sector.
It's a hiring advantage built into too many business models instead of a recruitment option reserved to fill job vacancies in an emergency labor.
Of course the elephant in the foreign worker discussion is how the program is essential only because too many Canadians have a lazy work ethic.
Give any coffee shop owner the choice between hiring a local kid who will work when necessary or one from the Philippines who works out of necessity and there really won't be a choice.
So pity Jason Kenney trying to cure this pounding policy headache.
He's employment minister in a country where finding reliable help working lousy jobs for low pay is a foreign concept.
That's the Last Word.