No labour shortage in Canada: Federal review conclusion
A report from a federal government bureau says a labour shortage used as an excuse to use temporary foreign workers doesn't exist. (FILE PHOTO)
A labour group that took a mining firm to court over its use of Temporary Foreign Workers says it feels vindicated after a Parliamentary Budget Officer review concluded there is not a labour shortage in Canada despite assertions from the Conservative party and industry.
The PBO report, written by the Ottawa-based government authority, falls in line with Statistics Canada numbers and a report from TD Bank indicating a labour shortage does not exist in the country.
“In an attempt to explain the continued weakness in the labour market, PBO examined indicators of labour shortages and skills mismatches, but found little evidence in support of a national labour shortage or skills mismatch in Canada,” said the report.
The report said small pockets of “labour market tightness” do exist, naming Saskatchewan particularly.
In 2012, the B.C. Building Trades Council took China-backed HD Mining to court over its plan to use TFW for a project near Tumbler Ridge, B.C.
BTC president Lee Loftus said the federal government must stop telling Canadians there is a shortage and using that for an excuse to increase the amount of TFW.
“I’m certainly disappointed that the federal government and those in that market have been buffaloing the people for as long as they have,” he said. “Those that want to exploit workers will continue to do so until we stop this.”
Phil Hochstein of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association disagreed with the report, and said getting certain skilled workers up north is still a problem, such as with ironworkers.
“They’re just not available,” Hochstein said. “So we have to look farther afield ... but the idea now is bring in those Temporary Foreign Workers to train young people.”
He said a survey of ICBA members showed companies up north expect their business to grow in coming years, making it even more difficult to get people.
B.C. has been a major user of the TFW program, with more than 74,000 such workers in the province.
Labour groups argue the program’s only real purpose is to keep wages down and a graph in the PBO report shows that while corporate profits increased since 1981, wages actually decreased in Canada.