Monday, February 9, 2009
Harpers temporary workers become the permanently unemployed
About a year ago Harpers government put all new applications for immigration on hold. The stated purpose at the time was to halt the growing backlog of applicants and introduce a new fast track program that would help to bring in skilled immigrants in as little as six months.
The contentious Bill C50 gave the then Immigration Minister Diane Finley the power to reject existing applications even if they met all the criteria, and to instruct officials to start cherry-picking immigrants based on labour market needs. The program consisted of two programs, one for unskilled labour, where the employer could sponsor the immigrants and one for skilled professionals (engineers and the like) where the provinces could sponsor the immigrant. After two years of employment, the skilled professionals could apply for permanent residence. However the unskilled laborer required provincial approval under the Provincial Nominee Program.
Or as the conservatives said in August when selling their new programs during the election:
Ottawa believes the new program will increase Canada's economic competitiveness. With nearly full employment, an aging population and skill shortages, there is an immediate need to ensure Canadian employers can access the skills they need, Ottawa said in a statement on the changes
In reality the two fold purpose of the changes was to halt the influx of whole families moving to Canada (brothers, sisters, grandparents and the like) that would not necessarily add to the work force but instead place additional strain on our social programs and just as importantly for the core conservative base, provide laborers to meet the specific needs of targeted industries and regions of the country. In other words cheap labour for the western provinces, to back fill the holes created by the high paying oil industry jobs.
Well a year later all that has changed.
The energy boom is rapidly going bust and there is simply no longer a need for all that extra manpower and the temporary workers are the first to go to ensure Canadian jobs are protected.
Somehow using the adverb simply to describe the situation that these temporary workers now find themselves in, doesn't seem to fit, when you consider the destructive changes that this government has made to our immigration policies and our international reputation, just to provide low cost labor for the energy sector.
Temporary workers, can not collect unemployment insurance (even though they pay towards the fund). When laid off the unskilled laborers can not just go and apply for another job (move from one construction company to another, or apply at Tim Hortons). They have to find another employer that has permission to hire foreign workers and apply for a new work permit, a process that can take up to three or four months. In other words they are screwed, because the new employer has to prove that there are no Canadian workers available to take the job and right now that is not likely the case.
However the unskilled laborers can at least get a plane ticket home paid for by their former employer. Unfortunately for the skilled professionals who are also being laid off they don't get a plane ticket. But they are allowed to apply for other positions, after all they have skills (engineers and the like) and there are always jobs at Tim Hortons or maybe driving cabs at the airport.
Do you notice that Harper seems to be getting more Bush like as each month passes by? Every new program he creates always seems to end up with the opposite result of what it was intended to do and somehow you knew it would when you first heard about it.
I think this conservative government has finally jumped the shark.