Questions build around foreign worker program

posted on April 14, 2014

By Tara Carman, Vancouver Sun | Link to Article

By Tara Carman, Vancouver Sun | Link to Article

Ottawa expanded its investigation into claims McDonald’s discriminated against Canadian employees in favour of temporary foreign workers on the same day two unions filed a court action challenging the program in another case.

The foreign worker program has faced a barrage of criticism in recent months amid allegations that certain employers are flouting rules designed to protect Canadian jobs and foreign workers from abuse.

The federal government’s investigation into McDonald’s started with three Victoria restaurants owned by a single franchisee, who allegedly brought in temporary foreign workers when there were qualified locals available to do the job.

On Monday, Employment and Social Development Canada announced it is investigating reports that two other franchises, in Parksville and Lethbridge, misused the program. They are suspended from bringing in more workers pending the outcome of the government’s investigation, said Alexandra Fortier, a spokeswoman for Employment Minister Jason Kenney.

“We take these allegations very seriously and immediately launched our own investigations,” McDonald’s Canada said in a statement on its website. “In addition, we have launched a comprehensive review of all corporate and franchise-operated restaurants across the country to ensure our operations are fully aligned with the requirements of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and consistent with our McDonald’s values.”

Meanwhile, two unions filed a court action Monday alleging an Oregon-based company working on a cogeneration plant being built by Conifex in northern B.C. dumped a local crane operator they had hired in favour of American workers.

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