Liberal candidate Robin Goldsbury. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)

Revelstoke’s federal candidates talk Temporary Foreign Workers

Businesses in Revelstoke regularly struggle with finding and retaining staff members. One option could be the foreign worker program.

Would you support reintroducing the foreign worker programs to help alleviate the worker shortage here in Revelstoke? Why?

Robin Goldsbury, Liberals

Having run multiple businesses throughout the Kootenay-Columbia region, Goldsbury has experienced issues with attracting and retaining employees. She has used the previous federal foreign worker program and knows it need to be overhauled to address the issues businesses on the front lines here in Kootenay-Columbia are facing. Goldsbury would champion a review of the foreign worker program and request to be part of the federal committee overseeing this programs implementation. She would actively seek out local businesses that have used the program and identify new business who would be interested in using a program like this. Goldsbury would ask what they would like to see implemented/improved and listen to any concerns. Information received will be the foundation to help guide the committee to making right decisions for a desirable outcome from this policy.

READ MORE: PROFILE: Goldsbury running for Liberals in Kootenay-Columbia

Abra Brynne is the Green candidate for Revelstoke’s riding. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)

Abra Brynne, Green Party

The Temporary Foreign Worker program came from good intentions, but has been less than ideal in practice: there have been numerous allegations from employees who say they have been abused by their bosses, reports of unscrupulous recruiters requiring people to pay for jobs, and companies that bring in foreign labour rather than hiring Canadians. The oversight necessary to mitigate these issues has been lacking.

In September, Elizabeth May told Global News that a better approach would see an increase in the number of permanent economic immigrants Canada takes in each year. She explained that as permanent residents, foreign workers would be allowed to bring their families to Canada and would no longer have the same motivation to send money back home—which means more money stays in Canada.

READ MORE: Immigration Canada’s new program will help foreign workers in Revelstoke

The other benefit is that stronger families means a stronger Canada. Let’s find ways to get more Canadians—and more permanent residents who are new to Canada—to the communities that need them through programs that support both employers and workers and their families. When we have people employed in the communities they call home, everyone is more invested—which leads to greater stability.

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program has been one way to alleviate work shortages where they occur; working together, we can diversify our efforts and address these needs through a proactive approach towards both short-term relief and long-term gain.

As your MP I will:

Hear about your first-hand experiences and listen to your concerns

Find out where you think the answers lie

Work to encourage worker recruitment programs for Canadians and workers who are new to Canada

Improve the integration of professionals into our workforce through a robust system for evaluating the credentials of immigrants and expanding their ability to fill much needed positions, such as family doctors

READ MORE: PROFILE: Brynne running for Green Party in Kootenay-Columbia

Rob Morrison is the Conservative candidate for Revlestoke. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)

Rob Morrison, Conservative

I will support the reintroducing of the foreign worker program and further believe that we need to develop a pathway to citizenship for the workers who participate. While this issue does have a significant impact on tourism it is not an isolated issue and is evident in the farming communities as well. Both industries will benefit from surety around the staffing issues they face and I will work on their behalf to help address the issue.

READ MORE: PROFILE: Morrison running for Conservatives in Kootenay-Columbia

Wayne Stetski is the NDP candidate for Revelstoke. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)

Wayne Stetski, NDP

The Temporary Foreign Workers program does currently exist, however, it is not working for our region. Kootenay – Columbia has been excluded from various pilot programs and there is a bottleneck in getting foreign workers approved. I have written to various ministers about the exclusion of Kootenay – Columbia and the need for program improvements.

Processing times at both Service Canada and Immigration, Refugees, Citizenship Canada are are too long, leading to financial hardship for employers. More resources are needed to ensure applications are processed quickly and fairly. The federal government must also consult at a regional level to better identify local employment shortages. If a sector in need is not properly identified, it is harder for a business to make a successful application.

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

Steps must also be taken to ensure foreign workers are not vulnerable to exploitation. New Democrats believe if someone is good enough to work in Canada, they are good enough to stay in Canada. That’s why we believe changes are needed to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program to include clear paths to permanent residency.

We also must look at what is contributing to local employment shortages. When I conducted consultations with small businesses throughout Kootenay – Columbia, I consistently heard the lack of affordable housing and child care are major barriers for employers recruiting and retaining staff. That’s why I have advocated along with my New Democrat colleagues urgent action to address these critical issues. We have proposed a number of measures to increase housing supply, curb speculation, and help renters make ends meet. A New Democrat government would also bring in universal, affordable child care where workers are paid a fair wage.

READ MORE: PROFILE: Stetski running for NDP in Kootenay-Columbia

Trev Miller is the Animal Protection Party candidate for Revelstoke. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)

Trev Miller, Animal Protection Party

According to many independent investigations, the temporary foreign workers program was sometimes little more than thinly disguised human trafficking. The precariousness created through Canadian law and policy enable recruiters and employers to exploit workers throughout their journey through abusive work practices through the constant threat of deportation. It’s vital we have workers to fill these jobs, and the Animal Protection Party of Canada supports policies that keep the best interests of workers and the community.

READ MORE: PROFILE: Trev Miller running for Animal Protection Party in Kootenay Columbia

Rick Stewart is the People’s Party of Canada candidate for Revelstoke. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)

Rick Stewart, People’s Party

I believe that the larger impediment to worker shortages is the lack of affordable housing. This is problem throughout B.C., which has some of the lowest vacancy rates and highest rents in Canada. Revelstoke is a great community with a diversified workforce, but people need housing at rates they can afford.

I read just recently that Canada accepted 532,000 immigrants, refugees, Temporary Foreign Workers and foreign students between July 2018 and July 2019. This is a ludicrous and unsustainable number that places incredible strain on our social services, housing supply and children’s future through debt financing.

READ MORE: Revelstoke WorkBC to decrease to part time hours in April

The PPC is the only party supporting a limit on immigration to a maximum of 150,000 per year with an emphasis on economic immigrants who can contribute to our economy. We need long-term solutions and bringing in more foreign workers will only exacerbate the problem. As your MP, I am willing to help local governments who have the responsibility to make available properly zoned lands and approved services for development by the private sector. Federal subsidies for housing and more Temporary Foreign Workers are neither sustainable nor a solution to a much deeper problem.

READ MORE: PROFILE: Stewart running for People’s Party of Canada in Kootenay-Columbia



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