Temporary Foreign Workers demand justice

The Temporary Foreign Workers Program has been increasingly in the spotlight the last few weeks. Many allegations have surfaced about the appalling living and working conditions faced by migrant workers. While much of the media coverage has ignored what is most important, my two guests on this week’s podcast are ready to offer some correctives.

First, Jason Foster speaks about the history of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program and its role in structural changes to Canada’s labour market – changes that have seen working conditions and security decline across the board. Jason teaches at Athabasca University; his research has focused on migrant labour.

Second, Adriana Paz-Ramirez provides more of the perspective of migrant workers themselves and links their struggle for justice to labour solidarity as well as immigration reform. Adriana is a long-time organizer with Justicia for Migrant Workers.

For more, I have two blog posts from last week on the Temporary Foreign Workers Program:

  1. The Temporary Foreign Workers Program and labour market discipline
  2. The Temporary Foreign Workers Program and labour solidarity

On a final and related note, McDonald’s Canada CEO John Betts also spoke out this week about the Temporary Foreign Workers Program. In a leaked phone conversation with franchise owners, he said,

This is a big one for us and it is critical because of our brand image and because of your need to make profits and our systems need to be able to take care of our people.

It is doubtful he means workers (Canadian or TFW) when he says “our people”. The issues raised by the controversy around the Temporary Foreign Workers Program will not be solved by blaming migrant workers or keeping them out of the country; they will be solved by organizing all workers and worker solidarity.

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