IN THE HOUSE ~ Question ~ on Conservatives' mismanagement of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program

   

 Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Some complaints, Mr. Speaker?

    The reality is Conservative changes have made this program worse and more open to abuse. That is the record of the government.

    Too many Canadians are seeing their jobs taken away. Too many temporary foreign workers are facing mistreatment and abuse. These issues are national and they are program-wide. The minister's failure to fix the program earlier has left it wide open to these abuses. Canadians know that they just cannot trust Conservatives.

    Why will the minister not agree to an independent review of his gross mismanagement of this program?

    Mr. Scott Armstrong (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment and Social Development, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the hypocrisy is again upon us.

    Canadians can trust the Conservative government to make the necessary changes so that every Canadian will always get first crack at any available job before a temporary foreign worker is brought in.

    Compare that to the NDP whose members stand in the House and complaint that we are bringing in foreign workers to take Canadians' jobs but who continuously write letters to the minister asking for temporary foreign workers in their own ridings.

    Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the fact is quite clear. The fact is this program is in crisis because of Conservative mismanagement.

    We have heard stories of temporary foreign workers whose wages are heavily docked or withheld altogether, like indentured servants in the 19th century. We have heard stories of temporary foreign workers facing egregious working conditions, even threatened with deportation.

    This minister has shown gross incompetence. Will the minister agree to a complete audit? Will he work to include a formal path to citizenship for those brought in under this program?

    Mr. Scott Armstrong (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment and Social Development, CPC): Mr. Speaker, not only do they want to bring temporary foreign workers into the country, they also want to try to make these temporary foreign workers permanent citizens of the country.

    We are going to ensure that Canadian workers have the first shot at all available jobs, but we also have taken strong steps to ensure that the temporary foreign workers who do come to fill the jobs when no Canadian is available, are protected. We are making sure that any employer who tries to abuse this system has strong penalties against them. We have legislation before the House right now which actually will have financial penalties for any employer who abuses the system.