The federal Green Party leader says her party would get rid of a program that helps local businesses help fill labour shortages.
“You may not like this answer, but we want to abolish the temporary foreign worker program,” said May last Thursday, responding to a question from Denny Warner, executive director of the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. “Our position is if you are good enough to work in Canada, you are good enough to live here.”
The federal government launched the program in the mid-1990s to address short-term labour shortages in various sectors, including but not exclusively agriculture. Some 52,000 temporary foreign workers received permission to work Canada in 1996. Almost two decades later, this number had risen to 310,000 by the end of 2015.
While the program has generally benefited both employees and their families in the form of remittances and employers desperate for staff, it also been the subject of various controversies following various abuses with employers failing to supply appropriate accommodations, while withholding salaries and imposing other measures considered inappropriate, if not illegal. Victoria, specifically, entered national spotlight in 2014, when the owner of three McDonalds’ outlets in Victoria used the program to undercut the hiring of locals.