Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFW)

Temporary foreign worker programs are typically seen as short-term solutions to shortages of regional or occupational labor. The Canadian temporary foreign worker program was expanded, the process streamlined, with little regulation of workers, resulting in TFW’s becoming vulnerable to exploitation. Wiide regional discrepancies in wage rates have persisted. Employers not willing to pay industry standard wage rates, are finding it difficult to find workers. This has become the catalyst for the influx of applications to the program. 

A recent report by a Federal Auditor has revealed; “Canada's temporary foreign workers program is rife with oversight problems that appear to have allowed lower-paid international workers to take jobs that out-of-work Canadians could fill,” the federal auditor general says.

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The Impact on The Industry

This issue is a real concern for ALL workers across Canada.

"Companies should have to pay whatever the going rate is for construction in a given area, because if they're allowed to advertise at a much lower rate and they're allowed to pay at a much lower rate, then they won't have as many Canadians applying, maybe none and on top of that, they will be depressing the wage rates of companies that are competing for the same work, and workers that are competing for the same work."
- Mark Olsen, LiUNA Western Canada Sub-Regional Manager

Temporary Foreign Worker Program issue in the media;

Globe and Mail - May 17, 2018

Globe and Mail - May 13, 2018

Global News - January 29, 2018

Globe and Mail - April 14, 2017

History Made

In 2008, the BC Human Rights Tribunal ruled that the workers were brought in on temporary visas and were employed with others in boring a tunnel that forms a major part of the transit line linking Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., and Vancouver were discriminated against in wages, accommodation, meals and expenses when compared to their European colleagues.

LiUNA Local 1611, (also known as the Construction and Specialized Workers' Union), launched a complaint with the tribunal and named the Canada Line builders, SELI Canada, SNCP-SELI Joint Venture and SNC Lavalin, as respondents. A subsequent Employment Standards Branch investigation examined the Joint Venture’s payroll and found that the TFWs’ complaint was valid. The SNCL-SELI JV was paying its TFW tunnellers as low as $3.47 per hour. Yes, $3.47 an hour!

Read the full story of this history making ruling