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MP Report for Okanagan-Coquihalla: Temporary Foreign Worker Program back in the news

April 08, 2014 - 12:20 PM

The temporary foreign worker program has again made major headlines across British Columbia. This week complaints centered on a number of fast food restaurants in Victoria. The complaint was that temporary foreign workers were being offered employment over Canadian workers who were also available for work. If these allegations are established as being accurate, an offending employer could face significant fines and even imprisonment. At the present time these allegations are being actively investigated by the same integrity division that has been involved in the situation I referenced in last week’s report that involves a resident of South Africa teaching dance in the community of Merritt under the temporary foreign worker program.

Over the past seven days since last week’s report significant progress has been made in the hopes that in the future dance classes for children in Merritt will continue to be offered. Some of the questions I most frequently receive from concerned citizens on this issue is the lack of an obvious common sense solution and slow timeframe of the compliance process. As I am discovering first hand there are a number of variables in these situations that are all deserving of consideration. Obviously, no Canadian desires to see temporary foreign workers exploited while in Canada– to help guard against exploitation complaints can be reported through email or by phone at 1 800 367-5693. Although a complainant may decide to publicly identify themselves, the Government handles all complaints of this nature as strictly confidential.

The compliance process is in many ways one and the same as an investigative process and depends upon actual evidence being presented to ensure employers and workers in Canada under the temporary foreign worker program are honouring the commitments agreed to under the initial agreement to participate in the program. There may be a need for verification that a worker has been fully compensated and legitimately paid and not syphooned off by third parties or elaborate kickback schemes to circumvent the law. It also should be pointed out that investigators with the Integrity Division acquire expertise in methods that are frequently used by some in an attempt to exploit the temporary foreign worker program and resulting best practices for compliance are used to help resolve cases of non compliance. All of this unfortunately takes time.

My intent of this week`s report is not to defend how the Integrity Division of the Temporary Foreign worker program has worked in Merritt with the Love to Dance Academy but rather to provide some context on some of the reasons why compliance concerns can be quite extensive to satisfy. Fortunately progress continues to be made in Merritt and I am hopeful that lessons learned here can offer future efficiencies in other areas with similar circumstances.

A few other points for this week. In last week’s report I mentioned that youth who are twelve years of age or older may apply for their own SIN number. I should have also provided more detail on this point: for children under twelve years of age, parents or other legal guardians can apply for a child’s SIN number- for example, if someone wished to set up a Registered Education Savings Plan. Twelve years of age is when a youth can apply for a SIN card on their own. Another point comes courtesy of the Okanagan Basin Water Board – to remind boaters that a vessel infected with invasive freshwater mussel larvae may live inside moist areas of a vessel for extended periods of time –potentially for as long as a month thus pointing to the need for a thorough inspection process. If you have a comment, question or concern on any matter before the House of Commons I can be reached at or toll free at 1-800-665-8711.
  Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla who writes a weekly report for his constituents and his website has an archive of previous reports.

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