PEI, Nova Scotia join Alberta in opposing changes to foreign worker program

posted on July 2, 2014

By Jane Taber, the Globe and Mail | Link to Article

By Jane Taber, the Globe and Mail | Link to Article

Employment Minister Jason Kenney’s changes to the temporary foreign worker program are drawing criticism from Maritime labour ministers concerned the lobster and seafood industry will be dramatically affected.

The ministers are comparing the fishery to the agriculture industry, which is exempt, and allowed to employ the temporary workers. They have not asked for an outright exemption for the fishery.

However, they argue that like agriculture, certain fisheries have a harvest time and their work force is aging and from rural communities that are becoming increasingly depopulated.

Mr. Kenney’s changes, announced last month, would phase out over three years the use of temporary foreign workers at fish processing plants.

The minister is to meet next week with his provincial counterparts from across the country in Charlottetown. It’s expected he will get an earful.

“I haven’t found a minister anywhere in Canada who is happy with it,” said PEI’s Innovation Minister Allen Roach, who will play host. About two hours have been set aside to hear from Mr. Kenney and question him about his controversial plan.

“Everybody is kind of in shock as to why it was turned into such a crisis to begin with,” Mr. Roach said.

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