Why did Jason Kenney weaken temporary foreign worker rules?

After proposing tougher rules governing the controversial Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program, the Conservative government has backtracked on one of the key proposals.

The proposal, tabled in June, would have banned employers from accessing the TFW program if they were convicted of human trafficking or assaulting or uttering threats to an employee. This provision was dropped in the final regulations, in effect since Dec. 31.

A spokesperson for the department of Employment and Social Development Canada told the Globe and Mail the change was made after consultations.

Jason Kenney, who became Employment minister in July after the summer cabinet shuffle, hasn't weighed in personally on why the department watered down the rules. But he has stood out as the government's primary defender of the TFW program, including tirades on Twitter.

Despite little evidence of a widespread skills and labour shortage in Canada, the program, pitched by Kenney as a solution to Canada’s skills shortage, has been growing steadily over the past decade. 

Behind the numbers is a story of abuse: companies displacing Canadian workers and replacing them with lower waged foreign workers, toiling away for below-market pay in bad working conditions.

And now, thanks to a last-minute change in the regulations, employers convicted of human trafficking and assaulting employees can participate in the TFW program.

Photo: mostlyconservative. Used under a Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0 licence.

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