Federal Liberal candidate Ryan Windsor has criticized local MP Elizabeth May for proposing to scrap the temporary foreign worker program. Other candidates in the riding have also defended the program. (Black Press File).

Opponents of Elizabeth May criticize her push to scrap temporary foreign worker program

May has proposed to scrap the federal program which supplies local business with temporary workers

The federal Liberal candidate for Saanich Gulf-Islands disagrees with Green candidate Elizabeth May’s call to scrap a federal program that helps local businesses help fill labour shortages.

Ryan Windsor said the temporary foreign worker program benefits local industries. “We have a low unemployment rate in Victoria, especially,” he said. “You look at the agricultural sector where workers are seasonal, the tech sector, where we are getting access to skilled labour that we actually need to meet the demand of a growing sector.”

RELATED: Green party leader says they would eliminate the temporary foreign worker program

May had said last week that her party would scrap the program. “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, which hosted an all-candidates event. “Our position is if you are good enough to work in Canada, you are good enough to live here.”

While generally beneficial to both employers and employees, the program has been the subject of various controversies that have cast it in a negative light. Windsor said his party has already made reforms in the past in promising to work with all parties to avoid future controversies. He added later that his party has committed to ensure that Canadians are first in line for jobs in Canada.

RELATED: Political speed-dating event in Sidney hears support for speedier transit

Kathleen Burton, communications coordinator for the campaign of Tory David Busch, said the Conservative Party believes Canadians should have first access to jobs in Canada. This said, the program helps fill labour shortages, when Canadians are not available.

Burton said Conservatives recognize that programs need to be flexible and take into account the realities on the ground while at the same time looking for ways to encourage people to be able to be matched with available work.

“The Green party has not taken into account the business needs that the current policy compliments,” she said. “Only by electing a Conservative government nationally and locally here in Saanich-Gulf Islands will the rights of Canadian workers be respected.”

Ron Broda, who is running for the People’s Party of Canada, agrees with the general need for the program. “Most of these [temporary] workers take low paying, low skill, hard labour positions that most Canadians will not because they are low paying, low skill, hard labour such as field workers in agriculture,” he said.

RELATED: New immigration pilot will offer residency to some migrant farm-workers in Canada

This said, Broda also raised several notes of caution. “Are we taking advantage of these workers? It may seem so,” he said. “However, the wages that they earn here, while considered extremely low by our standards, are far higher than what they would earn in their home country, if they could even find paying work. Their wages are generally sent to their home country to support their families.”

Broda acknowledged that this situation is not ideal. “It does need to be reviewed and there does need to be better coordination with provincial officials to enforce proper work and living standards,” he said.

The Peninsula News Review reached out to New Democrat Sabina Singh, but did not receive a reply.



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

South Vancouver Island B.C. Hydro Customers without power

Due to high winds nearly 3,900 B.C. Hydro customer will be out of power

Sidney signs off on 2020 budget with 1.79 per cent tax increase

Budget also includes additional funding for Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea

Search begins for two missing scouts near Sooke

Crews headed to Jordan River area after receiving call just after 2 p.m.

Scaffolding falls due to strong winds at Millstream Village Sunday afternoon

No injuries or vehicles damaged, according to West Shore RCMP

Cold water swimming a morning ritual for Willows Beach crew

Group turned heads when they slow-walked into the Polar Plunge

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

Massive early-morning blaze destroys Vancouver Island home

Firefighters from three departments called in to battle fire at unoccupied residence

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

VIDEO: Wounded Warrior Run leaves Port Hardy on eight-day trek down Vancouver island

The team’s fundraising goal this year is $250,000, which is double last year’s goal.

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Most Read