There has been widespread criticism of Stephen Harper government’s proposed policy to cut 15 per cent wage from foreign migrant workers.
“The Conservative decision to legalize exploitation of migrant workers comes in a week of major changes in immigration policy all calculated to force immigrants in to more and more precarious work,” said Chris Sorio from Migrante, a member of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change.
“Bill C-31, cuts to refugee healthcare, changes to the spousal sponsorship and parents and grandparents sponsorship are all part of a strategy to keep immigrants in precarious job, with low wages that benefit no one but employers and corporations.”
Stan Raper, national coordinator of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), said his organisation and others who interact daily with the various foreign migrant workers, were not privy to the discussions leading to this policy change.
“I say to (Jason) Kenney and Finley is you have no idea what you’ve started in a 15 per cent wage cut,” he added. Raper said the policy provides a negative impact on Canadian wages and will have a negative impact on the economy, as a whole.
Disadvantage - The policy which will be applied to foreign workers across sectors, is going to place Canadian citizens at a disadvantage, as they will be pitted against foreign workers competing for the same jobs, but with the disadvantage of being 15 per cent more expensive to employers.
Describing the proposed policy as discriminatory and against human rights, Chris Ramsaroop of Justice for Migrant Workers and a member of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change opined, “Paying some people lower wages legitimises further abuse against migrant workers.”
“These strategies result in creating a second class tier of workers with few rights and lower wages and go against the Federal Government’s own 2006 Labour Standards Review that called for equal pay for equal work,” Ramsaroop voiced.
“Have we not learned from our history lessons of how Chinese workers were treated in this country and the resulting trauma it caused?” Meanwhile Diane Finley, human resources minister said that the implementation of a two-tiered wage system will support Canada’s economic recovery and effectively respond to local labour market demands.
Earlier, in March, the government announced their prediction of an influx of seasonal farm workers this year, adding that the Seasonal Agriculture Worker Program (SAWP) is being eyed as a model worldwide.