Opposition Motion — Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I think the foreign worker program raises profound issues for Canadians. It is not just the abuse of the program, as in the recent uncovering of employers who brought foreign workers here and displaced Canadian workers. When we look at an incident like the XL beef plant, where E. coli got into steaks, we realize that the workers there were forced to deal with many more carcasses per hour than they could possibly deal with while cleaning each knife in between. Those workers, from Somalia, all happened to be on the temporary foreign worker program. They lacked the ability, the union mentioned at the time, to complain, to go back to the employer, because if they complained, their relationship was only to one employer. They could have immediately been sent back to Somalia.

There are fundamental moral questions about the temporary foreign worker program, and I think Canadians need to look to those as well. We need to ensure that capital, our respect for natural resources, and our use of human beings is never stateless, without place and without respect for Canada as the country it should be.

I ask my friend if he does not agree that we need to look at some fundamentals with respect to how we treat human labour, whether from Canada or from overseas.

Jasbir Sandhu: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is absolutely right. We need to ensure, once those temporary foreign workers are here, that they are not abused by the employers and are not subjected to wages that are lower than the minimum wages we have in Canada. As the NDP pointed out, employers were happy paying 15% less to the temporary foreign workers.

We need to ensure that this program is not only functional but is credible and clean. We need to ensure that we provide protection for those workers to ensure that they are able to get the same protections Canadian workers would get.