Moratorium not a solution to the abuses of the TFW Program

Community News & Features May 1, 2014 at 3:53 pm

Migrante Canada, the broad alliance of 19 Filipino migrant and immigrant groups in Canada, calls attention on the impact of the moratorium on the migrant workers already working in Canada and those with positive pending applications.

On April 24, Minister Kenney of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) declared a Canada-wide moratorium of the TFWP program for the Food Services Sector, effective immediately. The moratorium with a review of the program was Kenney’s response to the serious allegations of abuse of the TFWP, particularly in the food services industry.

This means that ESDC will no longer process new or any pending Labour Market Opinions (LMO) for applications in the food services sector. On top of this, any unfilled positions that are tied to any previously approved LMO will be suspended as well. Labour Market Opinions are prerequisites to securing many temporary work permit applications.

The official list of ineligible occupations for which no new LMO applications will be received is long and extensive with jobs ranging from food counter attendants, kitchen helpers, food service supervisors and servers, chefs, cooks, butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers, sales clerks, janitors, cleaners, to security guards and related occupations ( The moratorium punishes the migrant workers and gives them no recourse at all. There is no information on when the moratorium is going to end and when the review is going to be completed. There is no information on how many migrant workers, in country and those with pending positive applications are going to be affected, and consequently, how many businesses will be impacted as well.

The moratorium impacts negatively on many migrant workers who are on the tail end of their contracts and who will not have these renewed. It impacts those who have pending positive LMOs and who have risked their life savings to pay the thousands of dollars to labour recruiters for these jobs. Recruiters are not known to refund the thousands of dollars collected illegally from migrant workers.

Migrant workers are punished for the violations committed by the employers and the unscrupulous brokers or recruiters. Migrant workers are blamed for LMOs that were approved by the CIC and HRSDC (now ESDC), agencies responsible for the TFWP. As convenient scapegoats, migrant workers are pitted against Canadian workers, are presented as workers stealing jobs from the locals, and as fodder to fan the flames of racism, anti-migrant and anti-immigrant bashing.

In the light of the impact of the moratorium on the migrant workers, we raise the call that immigration, not a program of guest workers or temporary workers, is the answer. Granting permanent residency, with the pathway to citizenship, is the right and just way to go.