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Moratorium imposed on TFW use in food sector

(Canadian OH&S News) -- The federal Minister of Employment and Social Development, Jason Kenney, has imposed an immediate moratorium on Canada’s food services sector’s access to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP)....

(Canadian OH&S News) — The federal Minister of Employment and Social Development, Jason Kenney, has imposed an immediate moratorium on Canada’s food services sector’s access to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). Groups representing migrant workers immediately decried the move, which followed public allegations of abuse of the TFWP at McDonald’s restaurants in British Columbia.

Kenney announced the moratorium on April 24, saying that Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) would not process any new or pending Labour Market Opinion (LMO) applications related to the food services sector and that any unfilled positions tied to a previously-approved LMO would be suspended. Employers who have submitted applications and paid the processing fee, but have not yet received an LMO, will be refunded the full processing fee.

“Our government has been clear: Canadians must have the first chance at available jobs,” Kenney said in a statement. “We have repeatedly warned employers that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program must only be used as a last and limited resort when Canadians are not available.”

Kenney said that when he was made aware of some serious allegations of abuse of the TFWP, including those from Canadians through Service Canada’s confidential tip line, he directed officials to investigate, suspended LMOs and placed employers in question on a public blacklist.

“Despite these actions, there remain serious concerns regarding the use of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in the food services sector,” he said in the statement. “Those employers who are found to have lied about their efforts to hire Canadians could face potential criminal prosecution, with sanctions that include fines and jail time.”


But advocacy group Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) said that while the federal government had responded to the abuse of the program by employers, it had not considered the effects the moratorium would have on foreign workers. “J4MW believes the moratorium will leave migrant workers in a more precarious position,” the group said in a press release, citing workers who were already employed in the restaurant sector and had filed complaints about workplace violations or those whose contracts were about to expire, among others.

“Without larger structural changes to protect migrant workers, this decision will have far-reaching, negative consequences on migrant workers across Canada,” the press release said. “Open work permits, strengthened anti-reprisal measures [and] proactive enforcement of workplace rights are the immediate starting points of necessary reforms, not denying people the ability to work. Steps should be taken to increase standards for all workers, so that migrant and Canadian workers are not pitted against one another.”

The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC), Canada’s largest coalition of migrant worker groups and allies, has called for immediate changes to the moratorium, saying in a statement that such a move was not the solution. The alliance has called for the federal government to process pending and in-country LMOs and work permit applications for migrant workers and to develop a just transition method into permanent residency for migrants already in Canada, along with future immigrants in the low-wage, “low-skilled” sectors.

“A moratorium on TFWs is the wrong way to go,” said Chris Ramsaroop, a migrant worker advocate at J4MW. “Migrant workers in Canada awaiting a decision on their LMOs and work permits will suffer immensely. Those trying to leave abusive employers will be locked in.”

MWAC spokesperson Syed Hussan said that part of the solution was to change laws that pit migrant workers against unemployed or under-employed citizens. “In the long run, we need to return to an immigration system that gives access to permanent status to migrants in low-skilled industries.”

According to information from ESDC, three restaurants in Canada had their LMOs revoked or suspended in April. The Boathouse Restaurant in Fenelon Falls, Ont. had its licence revoked for providing false, misleading or inaccurate information regarding its LMO; Jungle Jim’s Restaurant/Greco Pizza/Captain Sub in Labrador City, Newfoundland and Labrador and McDonald’s restaurants in Victoria, B.C. had their LMOs suspended after being suspected of having provided false LMO information.

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7 Comments » for Moratorium imposed on TFW use in food sector
  1. real mackoy says:

    Now chances for people leaving on the so called “3rd world country” will lose a chance to have a better life! Like me who’s a filipino. But as of now working in B.C as a cook but the promise of the employer that he will help me on my papers just become a dream. So please have some new law that will help people like me who’s only dream is for a 14y/o daughters bright future and to be with my common law partner.

  2. karen jane says:

    how long will an LMO be granted if the papers have been forwarded last february, 2014?

  3. sudhir says:

    its very bad news for me when i came to know that mr jason Kenny has imposed moratorium on pending and new lmo application because I want to apply for lmo. But as far as I am concern Mr Kenny had taken this step due to some unwanted circumstances.i feel it will hurt to all those who are intersetd for internatinol exposure. i have very keen desire to serve canadians and to learn their culture and share own culture because migrant people learn so many things.but at the same time i hope mr kenny will cancel this step after finishing the ivestigation as soon as posible so that it would not effect those who had already given ielts test for applying lmo application. it also affect revenue for canada govt.please make the decison like so that right people wil not suffer.punish only those who are misusing this procedure. i feel canada govt continue this prosedure after finishing the investigation as soon as possible. hopeing for good news come very early. thanks

  4. veny says:

    Punishment should be an isolated case, it should not be applied to the whole industry. Most TFW are educated so give us time to process our residency. That’s what the country like right? to bring in highly skilled workers. If the problem is the rising number of TFW why not giving a cap or limit every year so the influx of foreign workers will be controlled. Sounds good? Give chance and opportunity who are already here because we already gave up our jobs back home. Some even spent lots just to come here even the nature of work is more difficult that our previous jobs. I know and I believe most of the canadians are immigrants too. Please be fair!!!!!Thanks a lot…..

  5. Bipinchandra Mistry says:

    What are the laws made by government in the world there are criminals will break the laws, some restaurants breaks the laws it does not mean that all fast food companies or franchises doing wrong with the LMO.
    Mr Kenney should think twice before impose moratorium on LMO. This kind of decision kills economy of country. Punish them those who are doing wrong with government policies.
    Canada is one of the best places in the world keep retain it. There are big contribution of migrants as well, so think again and quickly lift moratorium on LMO and do investigation on those who did wrong, don’t break continuity of economy,let it flow with the help of migrants and Canadians.

  6. Mark says:

    Its so hard to trace the problem because it is not only the employer are violating even the tfw did bec they just let there employer violate them and get immigrant
    Tfw are mostly has lower salary than immigrant so employer prefer tfw

  7. Mark says:

    I was an immigrant for 7 years i work in a warehouse but unfortunately last year i was lay off because the company hired tfw until now i have a hardtime getting a new job i lost my confidence, i am broke and degraded i have a part time. Right now i am so sad because my salary before as tfw is higher than i got my immigrant , not only me are like this even some of my friends i hope that the government address first the needs of the immigrants and citizen

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