Opposition Motion – Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, there are abuses of the temporary foreign workers program. Apparently I seem to be the only party in the House that actually thinks that the whole program is wrong. I have heard the official opposition say that it does not mind the whole program and that there are ways it can be used appropriately. The committee being proposed by the Liberal Party will examine how to make it work better.

Is there not some possibility that we can study whether there is something wrong with the idea of bringing people here to work at lower wages than what Canadians will accept? We are undercutting the whole job market for Canadians. We are filling jobs that could be filled by Canadians. We are also creating downward pressure on Canadian wages by even imagining that we should bring people to Canada, give them no rights, and have them work for cheaper wages.

Hedy Fry: Mr. Speaker, the member asked a very good question.

I want to point out to the hon. member that this program has been going on for quite a while, but it is now being abused. The program stipulated that temporary foreign workers had to be protected. They had to work at the same wage as a Canadian would be paid to do that job, and they had to obey the labour practices and the laws of the province with regard to the labour market. This was very clear.

It is only under the Conservative government that temporary foreign workers have been exploited and treated as indentured labour. This is something new, and that is why we want to get to the bottom of what is going on. We want to see the data. We want to see how many people have been exploiting and misusing the program. The Conservative government does not seem to care one way or the other. Let us not throw the baby out with the bath water. The program is important for productivity where the Canadian workforce does not have the skills and where there are jobs Canadians do not wish to do. It has always been there to help us be productive and meet our needs.

The ability of a temporary foreign worker to be fast-forwarded to become a citizen of this country and get permanent resident status was an important part of the program. The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has decided that he does not want that anymore. He just wants people to come in and go out, back and forth. He does not want to give them the ability to come here and have a chance for a better life.