Temporary Foreign Workers (part 2)

Since abuses of the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program are now coming to light, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is on the “campaign trail” trying their best to keep this program alive.

Their members of course, like having cheap labour instead of simply offering higher wages to attract Canadian employees. A recent tweet by Dan Kelly of the CFIB claimed that “a member who had 4 restaurants planned in Northern Alberta. He’s put the plans on hold due to the TFW decision”. So in other words, this business owner had no intention of hiring Canadians in the first place. If your entire business model depends on getting TEMPORARY foreign workers, you have a problem. If you haven’t even tried to recruit Canadian employees and you put your business plans on hold, I would suspect that your entire business model is predicated on getting labour you know you can get cheaper by importing it, rather than competing for labour in the free market.

The absurdity of the CFIB has been magnified as several provinces have increased their minimum wage in recent months. Of course the CFIB starts bleating how “disappointed” they are whenever the minimum wage goes up. When pressed the CFIB will say that they oppose minimum wage standards entirely because “the free market” should set wages. Except when it comes to attracting labour in sectors or regions where labour is in short supply. Then they need to import foreign labour because competing for Canadian workers in the free market is bad.

This is by no means the only issue where the CFIB are two-faced. They constantly complain about government regulation, until they have to pay merchant credit card fees. Then these “free market capitalists” demand government price controls.

The whole point of the TFW program is (supposedly) to allow employers who cannot attract Canadian workers to higher TFW’s to ” help fill genuine and acute labour needs”. Or so says the Federal Government’s “Economic Action Plan”. Genuine and acute, not chronic.

Today Marilyn Braun-Pollon of CIFB Saskatchewan tweeted an article from the Western Producer. In it beekeeper, honey producer and Paul Greidanus claims that he would hire Canadians if he could and would even raise wages because recruiting foreign workers is expensive. He even says “… I’d pay $20 an hour for a Canadian guy.” So he “would” raise wages”? Not “has” raised wages?

I’d have a whole lot of sympathy if Mr. Greidanus’ position was “I’m offering $25/hr and I still can’t attract and retain any Canadian citizen or permanent residents to work for me”.

The problem of course, as I described in my previous post, is that the whole method for employers to qualify for TFW’s is flawed. A few minutes on the internet and one can find job postings for apiary workers. At the time of this post, there were 52 jobs posted on www.jobbank.gc.ca using “apiary” as a search criteria. Not surprising, since to qualify for TFW’s employers have to advertise to demonstrate that they cannot find any Canadians. But as I and many others suspect, employers are advertising offering low wages that they know no Canadian would accept to “prove” their need for TFW’s. Most of the jobs posted start in the $10-$11/hr range, half of what Paul Greidanus claims he would be willing to pay. Yet based on the article in the Western Producer, they appear to be willing to offer higher wages to foreign workers.

It appears that the wages they are offering foreign workers is often higher than the wages they advertise, which calls into question the validity of their “need” for foreign workers.

Some will accuse critics of the TFWP of racism, as I have been. I, and I suspect most critics of the TFWP are in no way racist. This accusation is really just a diversion. A way to cast critics of the program in a bad light without addressing the substance of the criticism. Our criticism of the program is just that, critical of the program itself. I am a strong advocate for immigration, and I also can see a clear need for temporary foreign workers, when there is no Canadian citizen or permanent resident who can, or will fill a position at a fair market price, and only temporarily, to allow the employer time to recruit, train, and/or adapt to the changing economic environment they are in.

In the free market not every business can, will, or is meant to survive. If the costs of doing business is higher than your revenue your business will fail. As it should in the free market.

According to the CFIB’s declaration with the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada, the CFIB exists to promote & protect a system of free competitive enterprise“, but I think that it is becoming more and more apparent that the Canadian Federation of Business has no interest in the free market unless it benefits them, and only them. 




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