Liberal senator calls for 'Canadians First' job policy

Number of temporary foreign workers should be reduced during recession: Senator

Foreign workers should be banned from Canada for stealing jobs from the growing number of unemployed Canadians, says a Liberal senator.

New Brunswick Senator Pierrette Ringuette wants the federal government to stop the foreign worker program and institute a "Canadians First" job policy. If a business can't find a Canadian to fill the job and has to resort to a foreign worker, it should have to pay $500 a month into a fund to train Canadians to be able to do those jobs in the future, said Ringuette.

With record job losses in forestry, agriculture, mining and manufacturing, the government shouldn't be giving work visas to foreign workers while so many Canadians are looking for work, she said.

However, even with rising unemployment, there are still jobs that go unfilled and there are businesses that would go under if not for access to foreign workers, said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.

A temporary foreign worker isn't allowed into the country unless the employer can prove the position couldn't be filled with a Canadian worker, said Kenney.

However, there are Canadians prepared to do the work temporary foreign workers do if only they are paid proper wages, said NDP MP Olivia Chow (Trinity-Spadina).

She said she would like to see a decrease in the number of temporary foreign workers and have the government shift its immigration focus away from temporary labour to permanent residents.

The number of temporary foreign workers will likely decrease this year without any change in policy, said Kenney, as businesses slow down and employers have fewer job openings.

The Liberal Party said the senator's comments don't represent official party policy.

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