This spring, a scandal errupted in the media about how many major employers were taking advantage of Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program - only offering qualified Canadian employees part-time hours to scare them off of jobs, or ignoring qualified Canadian applicants altogether, all so that these corporations could save money and possess greater leverage over their employees by hiring TFWs who are generally paid less, do not require the same commitments as a Canadian  (benefits, insurance) and who are terrified of losing their jobs.

IMMIgroup has acquired access to a secret memo circulated within the immigration services community while the story was breaking. This is an edited version of that actual internal memo, written on April 16, shortly before the TFW moratorium, of April 24, 2014, in response to the many controversial stories appearing in the media. A lot of the contents may still be timely and worth sharing! Any references to clients or specifically identifiable situations have been deleted. The opinions are those of the anonymous author, a Canadian immigration lawyer, and not of IMMIgroup.

McDonald's in Iowa By https://www.flickr.com/photos/nnecapa/ (https://www.flickr.com/photos/nnecapa/2865338278/) [CC-BY-2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

McDonald's by NNECAPA / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

I see 2 totally different issues in this whole media scenario.

First of all are allegations from foreign workers who claim abusive or improper treatment. As far as I know, most of the workers that I’ve had any connection with appear to have had a positive experience, it would have been very few that had any complaints. So positive feedback should be easy to find.

The second issue pertains to allegations by Canadians of being turned down for jobs. This may prove to be the more serious and difficult one; employers would need to be able to document all applications by Canadians and be able to show a valid reason for not hiring, or for failure to interview. Those were the rules even before the current “crackdown” (which came as no surprise, as governments do respond to complaints, especially if an election is imminent!), but they just weren’t really enforced before.

One can be cynical and say that the government is in a pre-election mode, and is casting itself as the champion of unemployed Canadians who say they’ve been denied jobs (or even interviews). Unfortunately, there may be some truth to such allegations, which appear to be quite widespread, and that could prove to be a much more serious problem. Any media article on the internet , in the past 2 years or so, on Temporary Foreign Workers or immigration has elicited hundreds, sometimes thousands, of comments from disgruntled unemployed (or underemployed) Canadians who feel they’ve been passed over.

One item that does cause concern and needs to be rectified immediately: The CBC article referred to an alleged practice of employers offering full-time jobs only to foreign workers, but only part-time jobs to Canadian applicants. There are even jobs posted on a specific website, which are very unfortunately worded, that appear to suggest that only part-time jobs are offered to Canadians; at least the news article portrays it in that light. I checked that website, and these ads are indeed there (as of April 16th).

This is very clearly illegal, as in order to claim “no Canadian applicants”, the exact same job has to be eligible to, and offered to Canadians with the same full-time hours, and the same pay. Otherwise it’s a violation.

I would suggest strongly that the ads referred to be removed immediately, and changed to say that applications from Canadians are welcome, but deleting the clearly unlawful reference to “part-time”. These ads would need to be pulled and changed right away.

A part-time job is not the same as a full-time job. Thus, a Canadian who is offered only part-time would have a valid cause of complaint at law. Most Canadians actually do not want part-time jobs, only full-time, and that is the reason these employers cannot get Canadian employees, if they offer part-time. Part-time is not a career, people don’t take part-time seriously which is why they don’t stick around. Also, nobody will ever move to another city for part-time, and part-time work is very problematic for anyone seeking to get off EI or welfare.

Quite frankly, to work in a fast-food restaurant in an unskilled position, it’s very hard to find a good reason for non-hiring. Probably only about 20% or so of applicants may provide a valid reason for rejection; one can’t discriminate for things like age, being aboriginal, being “over-qualified”, spotty work history, mild disability (that doesn’t affect ability to work), or any arbitrary reason, etc. Every refusal to hire, every failure to interview has to be able to be justified. That’s always been the law; it’s just not been enforced until now.

It’s been noted that one fast food chain has a “National Hiring Day” twice a year, which brings applications from many Canadian applicants, which are only kept for 90 days then discarded. It’s been reported that many “Hiring Day” applicants are never responded to, or called for interviews. This scenario could potentially prove very problematic for this employer.

The writer doesn’t name the restaurant chain in the last paragraph, but the scenario seems to be highly suggestive of McDonald’s. Also, note that the CBC article linked to in this memo is not the original article; as far as we can establish, that article has been removed from CBC's website.


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