News British Columbia

Temporary Foreign Worker Program adds to B.C. unemployment: study 0

Jeremy Nuttall

By Jeremy Nuttall, 24 hours Vancouver

A study from C.D. Howe shows the unemployment rate in B.C. and Alberta has accelerated by as much as 3.9% due to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. (FOTOLIA)

A study from C.D. Howe shows the unemployment rate in B.C. and Alberta has accelerated by as much as 3.9% due to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. (FOTOLIA)

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program has caused unemployment in B.C. and Alberta to jump significantly, according to C.D. Howe Institute study released on the same day Ottawa announced a partial moratorium on the controversial program.

The study by Dominique Gross used government data from 2002 to 2012, determining that using temporary foreign workers has impacted B.C. workers by almost 4% over several years.

“What I found is there has been some impact on the unemployment of local workers,” Gross said. “In my study, it’s mostly the low-skilled workers.”

Due to a now eliminated fast track pilot program from 2007 until 2010, the program resulted in an accelerated increase of 3.9% in the unemployment rate in B.C. and Alberta and has since kept it up.

With B.C.’s current 5.8% unemployment rate, the number would represent thousands of people without work, especially those who could fill low-wage jobs, such as fast food staff.

The report said a Labour Market Opinion — needed to show no Canadian was found to fill a position for which a TFW is being applied for — was only filed for 37% of entries through the program in 2011.

On Thursday, federal New Democrat MP Jinny Sims demanded the Conservative government put a moratorium on the program for low-paying jobs and conduct an audit and Ottawa has done just that.

“It’s just gotten so ridiculous now when you’re looking at entry-level jobs,” Sims said. “What do you say to Grade 12 students? ‘You can’t have a job because you don’t have the skill set.’ Give me a break.”

Federal Employment and Social Development Minister Jason Kenney announced Thursday night the program would be subject to a moratorium for low-wage positions.

“I am announcing an immediate moratorium on the Food Services Sector’s access to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program,” Kenney said in a statement. “Accordingly, ESDC will not process any new or pending LMO applications related to the Food Services Sector. In addition, any unfilled positions tied to a previously approved LMO will be suspended.”

Sims had earlier in the day accused Kenney of feigning shock whenever a new story of the program’s abuse surfaced.

 

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