International Experience Canada work permit program criticized

Lack of checks and balances will lead to abuse: Union

The International Experience Canada (IEC) work permit program is being criticized as a shortcut for employers to lower wage costs.

The federal government recently announced as many as 10,700 IEC work permits will be issued allowing Irish workers under the age of 35 to live and work in Canada.

The IEC program provides 2,500 visas for young professionals, 500 visas for an international co-op category and 7,700 visas for working holiday applicants. The permits cover a two-year stay in Canada.

“The IEC program opens the door to over 10,000 Irish workers coming to Canada, potentially displacing Canadian workers, and potentially working for lower wages than those earned by Canadian workers,” said Doug Parton, business agent for Ironworkers Local 97.

The union — representing structural and reinforcing ironworkers throughout British Columbia — said the program lacks crucial checks and balances.

“This program circumvents the requirement for employers to prove there is a shortage of Canadian workers before hiring non-Canadians, and also removes the requirement for employers to pay the prevailing wage rate for a particular job,” Parton said.

Parton said employers will be tempted to use the program to circumvent the stricter requirements of the Temporary Foreign Worker program.

“Without these checks and balances in place, unscrupulous employers will take advantage of the IEC program as a means to lower their wage costs,” he said, calling on the program to only issue visas to Irish students hoping to enhance their degree-related work experience.

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