Central labour bodies demand major changes from the federal government -Closed work permits
18 December 2023
Montreal, December 18, 2023. – On this International Migrants Day, and as part of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration’s consultation on closed work permits and temporary foreign workers (TFWs), four major labour organizations have submitted a joint brief, reiterating their demand that these permits be abolished and replaced by open work permits, with no sectoral or regional ties.
The Centrale des syndicats démocratiques (CSD), the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN), the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ) and the Quebec Federation of Labour (QFL) denounce the fact that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) has today become a quick and easy way to fill persistent labour shortages. In contrast, it was originally intended to fill rare shortages. This easy route does not encourage employers to improve working conditions or invest in their company’s productivity. If job market needs are permanent, the Canadian government must instead promote access to permanent residency and improve the permanent immigration system.
“The time is right for Canada to change its laws and close one of the most decried avenues of contemporary exploitation. The use of TFWs has become so widespread that we can no longer ignore the deleterious effects of the closed work permit, for which there is simply no longer any social acceptability. We are uniting our voices to defend a vision of immigration that is more inclusive, more respectful of the dignity of immigrants and more structuring for workplaces,” say CSD President Luc Vachon, CSQ Vice-President Mario Beauchemin, CSN President Caroline Senneville and QFL General Secretary Denis Bolduc.
Also, in the current context of a shrinking labour market and rising unemployment rates, some TFWs have lost or are at risk of losing their jobs, with no alternative employment options, and the TFWP is a major contributor to their increasing numbers in the non-status category.
Temporary immigrants working for a single employer are vulnerable to all kinds of abuse, discrimination and exploitation, because exercising their rights entails a high risk of reprisals, as numerous studies have shown. TFWs are also exposed to higher health and safety risks, as they often do not dare to denounce a situation, even when they are unionized.
In addition to replacing closed work permits with open ones, the CSD, CSN, CSQ and QFL are demanding:
1. Increased investment in mechanisms to inform temporary immigrants of their rights, inspect their workplaces, and deal with complaints and sanctions;
2. Prioritization of permanent rather than temporary immigration, to meet the country’s socio-economic needs permanently;
3. Cooperation and respect for the constitutional jurisdictions of the provinces and agreements between the various levels of government, as well as consultation with civil society partners, including labour organizations.
In Canada, the number of temporary immigrants has more than doubled over three years (from 1,305,206 in 2020 to 2,198,679 in 2022), notably as a result of the Quebec-Ottawa Agreement easing the rules of the TFWP.
The CSD, CSQ, CSN and QFL are present in all economic activity sectors. Together, they represent nearly 1.2 million workers.
Source: CSD, CSQ, CSN, QFL
Translation: SEU 800
|Simon Lajoie, CDS
|Cell :514 662-5495
|Camila Rodriguez-Cea, CSN
|Cell : 438 882-1275
|Gabriel Danis, CSQ
|Cell :514 219-1485
|Jean Laverdière, QFL
|Cell : 514 893-7809