UFCW makes its voice heard in roundtable on Temporary Foreign Worker Program

A UFCW Canada Human Rights Department Release

Ottawa – March 11, 2013 – UFCW Canada recently participated in an “invitation-only” roundtable regarding the federal government’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). The meeting was held in Ottawa and was chaired by Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, and Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development.

The federal government is conducting ongoing consultations that it says are aimed at improving the TFWP following complaints that employers are using the program to exploit migrant workers who lack sufficient employment protections, benefits, and compensation.

As a longstanding defender of migrant workers’ rights, UFCW Canada expressed a variety of concerns relating to the TFWP in its submission to the Ministers. Through its ten AWA support centers across Canada, UFCW Canada comes in contact with tens of thousands of migrant workers annually and provides more services to migrant workers than any other organization in the country.

“While our grievances with the TFWP remain intact, and nothing was said to indicate that meaningful change is on the horizon, the dialogue with Ministers Kenney and Finley was an important first step in reforming a program that is unwanted by many migrants and is economically unsustainable,” says Naveen Mehta, General Counsel for UFCW Canada.

“Constructive dialogue and consultation with all levels of government has been a primary tenant of our long-term strategy to achieve legislative change and eliminate the abuse that is inherent within the TFWP as it is currently structured,” adds Mehta, who attended the consultation on behalf of the union.

Prior to participating in the roundtable, UFCW Canada encouraged the federal government to adopt the recommendations of the Fall 2012 Metcalf Foundation report entitled “Made in Canada: How the Law Constructs Migrant Workers’ Insecurity.” The report found that the TFWP lacks the supports, programming, and services needed to operate efficiently and effectively and recommended that adequate resources be made available to the program. It also called on the federal government to provide more migrant workers with a path to permanent residency and opportunities to improve their skills while working in Canada.

UFCW Canada is Canada’s largest private sector union with more than 250,000 members across the country working in almost every sector of the food industry from field to table. UFCW Canada in association with the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA) (www.awa-ata.ca) also operates ten agriculture workers support and advocacy centres across Canada, which have provided assistance to thousands of workers since the first centre opened its doors in 2002.

Les TUAC Canada figurent parmi les plus grands syndicats du secteur privé au Canada, représentant plus de 250 000 membres partout au pays qui oeuvrent dans presque tous les secteurs de l’industrie alimentaire allant des champs de culture à la table à manger. De concert avec l’Alliance des travailleurs agricoles (ATA) (www.awa-ata.ca), les TUAC Canada exploitent également dix centres de soutien et de défense pour travailleurs agricoles à travers le Canada, qui ont fourni de l’assistance à des milliers de travailleurs depuis l’ouverture du premier centre en 2002.

UFCW Canadá es el sindicato Canadiense más grande del sector privado con más de 250,000 miembros en todo el país trabajando en cada sector de la industria alimenticia desde el campo a la mesa. La UFCW Canadá en asociación con la Alianza para los Trabajadores Agrícolas (AWA) (www.awa-ata.ca) también opera diez centros de apoyo y de defensa a través de Canadá, los mismos que han proporcionado asistencia a decenas de miles de trabajadores desde que el primer centro abrió sus puertas en el año 2002

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