West Coast Domestic Workers’ Association report urges B.C. to protect its foreign workers

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      Even though Canada’s temporary-foreign-worker program comes under federal jurisdiction, provinces have the power to protect labourers, a B.C. lawyer says.

      Ai Li Lim is the executive director of the West Coast Domestic Workers’ Association. On August 10, her group presented a report on temporary foreign workers at a well-attended forum at SFU Harbour Centre in downtown Vancouver.

      “Yes, it’s a federal immigration program, but once the workers are here in B.C., they have to be—or they are, in theory—supported by B.C. employment standards,” Lim told the Straight during a break at the forum.

      In the report, titled Access to Justice for Migrant Workers in B.C., the WCDWA outlined proposals to address “inequalities and gaps” in the program regarding the protection of workers. A number of these involve provincial legislation.

      One recommendation is for B.C. to amend its Labour Relations Code to allow sectoral representation for workers in the absence of unions.

      Another is for the province to look at Manitoba’s Worker Recruitment and Protection Act. This law provides a registration system for both employers and recruiters. It also prohibits the collection of fees from foreign workers in exchange for recruiters finding employment for them.

      Although it is illegal in B.C. to charge workers for placing them in jobs, Lim explained that there are “loopholes” in the B.C. Employment Standards Act that allow recruiters to ask for “advertising” fees.

      The WCDWA report also recommended strengthening employment standards to ensure a “more pro-active approach” to enforcement in sectors that rely on migrant labour.

      Initial figures from Citizenship and Immigration Canada indicate that in 2012, 49,488 foreign workers arrived in B.C. out of a nationwide total of 213,516, the report noted. This makes the province the second-largest host of temporary workers, after Ontario.

      Comments

      1 Comments

      Ted Alcuitas

      Aug 14, 2013 at 5:53pm

      By this time, the WCDWA and other women’s advocates should have realized that no amount of ‘tinkering’ with the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) which is the model of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, can solve the plight of these women.

      Their own findings in this report illustrate the futility of continuing to badger governments – federal or provincial - to improve the program.

      By the way, the findings and demands of WCDWA are basically similar to calls made by Intercede, the Philippine Women’s Centre and others before them.

      It is true that there have been a number of so-called improvements, like the ‘Tejada Law’ which take out the requirement to have another medical exam for a caregiver when applying for landed status.

      The basic inequity in the LCP is the devaluing of women’s housework and as long as this attitude remains and its racist underpinnings, it will never be ‘improved’ as you envisioned.

      If all your recommendations will be followed it will have completely gutted the program to the point of abandoning it all together.

      Why not just call for its outright scrapping?

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