Come to Canada and be exploited.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his federal henchmen are changing the rules again. After many successful years of bringing foreign workers into Canada when needed, the Conservatives feel that the rules do not allow for their business friends to exploit these workers. They are going to change that.

Human Resources Minister Diane Finley announced the changes in the past week. The good news is that the government is promising to fast track the approvals for companies with a successful record in hiring temporary foreign workers. The bad news is that the government is going to allow them to pay as much as 15 per cent less than a Canadian worker might make in the same job. This pay scale information is wrapped in some ambiguity in the legislation but the intent seems clear.

Of the approximately 300,000 workers now in Canada on a temporary worker visa, there have been few problems, few reports of exploitation and few complaints from Canadians about the program. While most think of these people as doing the backbreaking menial work associated with the agribusiness, they were actually brought in originally because of a lack of skilled workers in occupations such as software development. The key to their acceptance by Canadians has been the promise that they will be treated the same as Canadian workers and paid the same wages as a Canadian would be offered. That is what the new legislation will change.

If you are the type that reads into the Conservatives right-wing objectives, you might just think that the Conservatives intend to use this to force down Canadian wages. And they will. By cutting off Canadians from Employment Insurance if they will not take the lower wages, they can drive down some salary levels even further.

The exploitation of new immigrants and visa workers has created serious trouble in Europe as racism and hatreds are fed by the extremists on the right. It is the trade-off for Canada’s Conservatives as they gain friends with deeper pockets who can exploit the foreign workers and also hire Canadians for less. It is cynical, brutal and inhumane but Harper’s people go where the money can be found.

Human Resources Minister Finley made the announcement of the changes in the program in Alberta last Wednesday. Where do you think Alberta is getting the oil-sands workers that are needed to fill those pipelines with crude oil?

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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