Federal Liberal candidate Ryan Windsor has criticized local MP Elizabeth May for proposing to scrap the temporary foreign worker program. Other candidates in the riding have also defended the program. (Black Press File).

Green leader criticized for push to scrap temporary foreign worker program

Elizabeth May wants to scrap federal program which supplies local business with temporary workers

Vancouver Island Liberal and Green candidates are butting heads over the viability of a federal migrant worker program.

Saanich Gulf-Islands Liberal Ryan Windsor disagrees with Green candidate Elizabeth May’s call to scrap a federal program that helps local businesses help fill labour shortages.

Windsor said the temporary foreign worker program benefits local industries. “We have a low unemployment rate in Victoria, especially,” he said. “You look at the agricultural sector where workers are seasonal, the tech sector, where we are getting access to skilled labour that we actually need to meet the demand of a growing sector.”

RELATED: Green party leader says they would eliminate the temporary foreign worker program

May had said last week that her party would scrap the program. “You may not like this answer, but we want to abolish the temporary foreign worker program,” said May last Thursday, responding to a question from Denny Warner, executive director of the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, which hosted an all-candidates event. “Our position is if you are good enough to work in Canada, you are good enough to live here.”

While generally beneficial to both employers and employees, the program has been the subject of various controversies that have cast it in a negative light. Windsor said his party has already made reforms in the past in promising to work with all parties to avoid future controversies. He added later that his party has committed to ensure that Canadians are first in line for jobs in Canada.

RELATED: Political speed-dating event in Sidney hears support for speedier transit

Kathleen Burton, communications coordinator for the campaign of Tory David Busch, said the Conservative Party believes Canadians should have first access to jobs in Canada. This said, the program helps fill labour shortages, when Canadians are not available.

Burton said Conservatives recognize that programs need to be flexible and take into account the realities on the ground while at the same time looking for ways to encourage people to be able to be matched with available work.

“The Green party has not taken into account the business needs that the current policy compliments,” she said. “Only by electing a Conservative government nationally and locally here in Saanich-Gulf Islands will the rights of Canadian workers be respected.”

Ron Broda, who is running for the People’s Party of Canada, agrees with the general need for the program. “Most of these [temporary] workers take low paying, low skill, hard labour positions that most Canadians will not because they are low paying, low skill, hard labour such as field workers in agriculture,” he said.

RELATED: New immigration pilot will offer residency to some migrant farm-workers in Canada

This said, Broda also raised several notes of caution. “Are we taking advantage of these workers? It may seem so,” he said. “However, the wages that they earn here, while considered extremely low by our standards, are far higher than what they would earn in their home country, if they could even find paying work. Their wages are generally sent to their home country to support their families.”

Broda acknowledged that this situation is not ideal. “It does need to be reviewed and there does need to be better coordination with provincial officials to enforce proper work and living standards,” he said.

The VI Free Daily reached out to New Democrat Sabina Singh, but did not receive a reply.



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Just Posted

Former Comox hospital turning into Vancouver Island’s first ‘dementia village’

Island Health inks deal to transform St. Joseph’s Hospital into groundbreaking $52.6 million facility

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

Three people facing mischief charges after protests at Premier John Horgan’s home

Special prosecutor was appointed to avoid real or perceived undue influence

Eight people arrested on Pandora Avenue after enforcement order issued

Those living in homeless camps were given until May 20 to move indoors

Vancouver Island churches embrace technology to cope with pandemic

Technology helping faith communities connect

Ferry sailings scheduled once again at Nanaimo’s Departure Bay terminal

BC Ferries announces that resumption of service June 3 includes four daily round trips

‘A bottomless well of love for people and communities’

Parksville Qualicum Beach News editor JR Rardon dies at age 61

Dump truck in Nanaimo snags power lines, snaps hydro pole, crashes

No injuries in incident Monday morning on Old Victoria Road

Kelowna man charged with harming a hamster

The 20-year-old Kelowna man faces several animal cruelty charges

No one injured in suspicious Victoria boat fire, say investigators

Victoria police and fire personnel called to blaze on waters near Selkirk Trestle May 22

Victoria dealer sells Batmobile replica at Arizona auction

Tim Quocksister sells Batmobile replica for $165,000 US at auction in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Snowbirds jets will not be leaving Kamloops, just yet

The Snowbirds have been in Kamloops since May 17 when a plane crashed killing Capt. Jennifer Casey

COVID-19 checkpoints ‘up to them,’ Bonnie Henry says of remote B.C. villages

Support local tourism economy, but only if you’re invited in

Most Read