Question Period: Temporary Foreign Workers Program

By: The Hon. Amina Gerba

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Hon. Amina Gerba: Honourable senators, my question is for the Government Representative in the Senate. The labour shortage is forcing employers to turn to temporary foreign workers. In 2022, Quebec welcomed 38,500 temporary workers, an increase of more than 50% compared to 2018.

However, a documentary entitled Essentiels, which recently aired on Télé-Québec, reveals that temporary immigrants who often arrive in Canada with closed work permits experience inhumane working conditions at their sole employer. Moreover, they are not allowed to settle in Canada.

Senator Gold, what is the government doing to end these slavery-like practices experienced by temporary workers who play a vital role in our country?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for the question. The mistreatment and abuse of temporary foreign workers is completely unacceptable, period. Everyone deserves to work in a safe and healthy workplace with dignity. That is why the Government of Canada requires all employers to provide all temporary foreign workers with information about their rights in Canada. It prohibits employers from retaliating against workers and it prohibits employers from charging workers recruitment fees.

The Government of Canada has committed to strengthening these integrity measures to ensure that temporary foreign workers work in a safe and decent environment.

Senator Gerba: Senator Gold, why are these men and women who feed us and take care of us not allowed to settle in Canada?

Senator Gold: That is a good question. Thank you for asking it.

As you know, temporary foreign workers play an essential role in the Quebec and Canadian economy. Employers are having a hard time meeting their labour needs and the availability of temporary foreign workers is an important issue for Quebec, where the unemployment rate was 4.2% in March.

The government is implementing a pilot project in Quebec for temporary foreign workers. The purpose of the project is to ensure that intermediate-skilled jobs are included in the facilitated process. The government also signed a new agreement with Quebec to allow key sectors to welcome more temporary foreign workers without displacing local workers.

That is an example of strong collaboration that can help us build the workforce we need and then ensure that foreign workers are able to find a new life with us here in Canada.

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