Monday, May 19, 2014

TFWP: Yet Another Reason To Shut It Down

The consequences of the Harper Government's widening of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program over the last several years keeps going from bad to worse.

At first it was employers choosing to hire TFWs over Canadians.  Then we started finding out that not only were the companies forcing them to living in company-owned apartments and deducting the rent off the payroll, but we also started hearing of cases where the TFWs themselves were being charged significant sums of money to get here.

Today, we have allegations of a company in BC abusing the program and all but engaging in extortion and human trafficking.

An Iranian couple are going public about how a B.C. business charged them $15,000 to come to Canada — a violation of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program rules — for jobs that turned out to be non-existent....“After you get this situation, you pay $15,000 and after that … where is my money? Where is my job? I always ask — when can I start my job?” said Aminian’s husband, Payam Bakht....Aminian and Bakht also said that once they were in Canada, Parvaz Film told them that if they paid an additional $1,200 per month to the company in cash, it would remit false payroll taxes to government, so the couple could pretend Bakht was working — and stay in Canada. 
“We didn't have job, we had to pay tax, and if we didn't pay tax we had to leave Canada,” said Aminian. “We have to pay $1,200 each month, without any work and without any salary.”
This is nothing less than fraudulent on the part of the company.  Charging $15,000 for a non-existent job is straight out fraud, demanding that the victims pay $1200 a month after that is criminal - that's extortion.  The owners of the company in question need to be held accountable for these allegations - in a court of law.

Not only does this represent the worst kind of exploitation possible, it shows us beyond any doubt that the program has holes in it that open it to the worst predations possible - human trafficking.

The rather flaccid response from the government is appalling:
Go Public tried several times to ask Kenney about this, in Ottawa, but he wouldn’t stop to talk. His office said he was too busy. 
It later sent a statement, saying enforcement is improving. 
“Under the previous Liberal government, no inspections were done to ensure that employers were following the rules," said Kenney's office. "In 2007, our government began conducting investigations and has increased the numbers of investigations done each year significantly since then."
The Minister is "too busy" to deal with problems in this program?  Not acceptable.  Mr. Kenney is the minister responsible for this program.  When issues like this arise, it is unquestionably his job to deal with.

Playing the "but but the Libruls" line is ridiculous.  The Harper Government started opening this program up in 2006.  Prior to that, it was a very limited, small scale program.  There are now hundreds of thousands of TFWs in this country, and the companies hiring them are showing more and more signs of exploiting the program as well as the workers.

Essentially, what Kenney has done is on one hand tightened down the immigration system to the point where it's difficult for families to be reunited through official channels, and then opened up an unofficial immigration channel through the TFWP, a channel that starts to look like a tool used by racketeers engaging in smuggling people into Canada.

We aren't talking about a few cases here, it seems that every time we turn around, there are more, and more serious offences being committed under this program.

If the minister isn't willing to clean the program up, it's time to shut it down.  If a replacement is needed, we can create that, but it has to be closely monitored and controlled.  

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