The Harper CONS slight of hand on TFW's

When Jason Kenney grandly announced his new temporary foreign worker program reforms last week - Putting Canadians First! (external - login to view)- he slyly handed off the greater part of his troubles to Chris Alexander - Minister of Citizenship, and Immigration - and now also Minister of IMPs and ICTs.

We don't hear much about IMPs - the International Mobility Program under which the majority of workers enter Canada. They do not have to pass a labour market test (LMIA) to determine whether they will be putting Canadians out of work because, as our new MinIMP explained, the program is intended to benefit not individual businesses by filling specific jobs, but rather "Canada as a whole".

Via Kenney's ministry, Employment and Social Development Canada (external - login to view) :Of the 221,273 foreign nationals who entered Canada in 2013, 38% came in under the TFWP, but 62% came in under the IMP - 83,740 vs 137,533

Then there's the ICTs - Intra-Company Transfers (external - login to view) - also not reliant on LMIAs to safeguard Canadian jobs because they were created to allow multinational corps to move their skilled workers easily from country to country.

You may recall this whole TFW fiasco first blew up in the public eye because the Royal Bank farmed out part of its IT work to iGATE, a company that straddles US, Canada and India, who then cycled its workers in and out of Canada for training by RBC staffers they would later replace under an intra-company transfer.

As RBC CEO Gord Nixon explained at the time (external - login to view), only one of them came into Canada as a TFW, and besides, RBC "does not get involved in the hiring practices of the companies it hires."

In BC, eight US construction workers were granted entry to BC by the CBSA under an ICT after a US company got the contract to build a wood-waste storage building near Prince George. These "specialized workers" included a former rancher and an apprentice roofer and produce clerk. Yea NAFTA! and all that, but don't we have enough ranchers, apprentice roofers, and produce clerks looking for any kind of work in Canada already?

Asked about the union-backed court case protesting import of the eight US workers, Kenney referred reporters to Chris Alexander, but a year ago he stated (external - login to view) : "The obligations we have have for intra-company transfers are often hard-wired into trade agreements."

"The final text of the much-vaunted Canada-European Union free trade agreement (CETA) is expected to include a list of occupations that can be fast-tracked into Canada and would allow European firms to bring European workers into Canada through inter-company transfers ... The Conservative government has described the deal’s provisions for temporary entry of labour as “the most ambitious ever in a free trade agreement.” Still you can't please everyone.

Foreign worker reforms clash with trade agenda - The Globe and Mail

B.C.’s deputy premier and natural gas development minister Rich Coleman is worried Canada is going to "fail" if companies cannot hire temporary foreign workers for the 100,000 jobs needed to develop LNG export projects on the coast.

The Kitimat LNG project is co-owned by Canadian branches of U.S. energy giants Chevron Corp. and Apache Corp. Will they be bringing in their own workers?

TransCanada, once billed in the US as "an American company with operations in Canada (external - login to view)", is slated to build a $1.9-billion pipeline link for Kitimat LNG project.

In February Mr. Coleman announced there was "no question the industry will be looking to foreign workers to get up and running", and in March he touted the importance of being on "a continent with a lot more people south to us ...

so we have access to other skilled labour on the continent (external - login to view) and there are people who are very good at doing certain jobs - specialized welders." One presumes he isn't referring to the TransCanada welders on the southern leg of the Keystone XL Canada to Texas project :

"Over 72 per cent of welds required repairs during one week. In another week, TransCanada stopped welding work after 205 of 425 welds required repair.Inspections by the safety agency found TransCanada wasn’t using approved welding procedures to connect pipes, the letter said. The company had hired welders who weren’t qualified to work on the project because TransCanada used improper procedures to test them."

So. PM-hopeful Jason Kenney's TFW Program "will now refer to only those streams under which foreign workers enter Canada at the request of employers following approval through a new Labour Market Impact Assessment."
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