Excerpt from the Official Report of
DEBATES OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

(Hansard)


March 4, 2014

Protection for workers under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program

S. Simpson: I'm glad to see the minister is at her sanctimonious best, but if she'd answer the questions, we'd all be better off.

We have 158,000 people unemployed in this province, and we now have 74,000 temporary foreign workers — 13 percent of the population and 22 percent of the foreign workers. Yet this government does nothing to ensure that the jobs that should come to British Columbians are coming to British Columbians.

Hon. Speaker, we know that the government is not going to do anything to create that situation, so, at a minimum, will the government protect those temporary foreign workers who are being exploited in this province? That's the reality.

Will you put in place a compulsory registration program for employers, will you put a phone line in so that workers can express their complaints, and will you allow the employment standards branch to be proactive, to protect those workers when they are exploited? That's what we need in British Columbia.

We need to either protect these vulnerable workers or admit to British Columbians that the government doesn't care. What is it, Minister — protect them, or tell us you don't care?

...

S. Simpson: The minister will know that while it's a federal program, the enforcement and standards are a provincial responsibility. Other provinces have accepted that responsibility. They have required the employers to, in fact, register. They've made those obligations on employers. British Columbia hasn't done that. As a result, workers are exploited in this province, and it's because you're not doing your job.

Pretty simple steps, hon. Speaker. Put in a toll-free help line for vulnerable workers, with a variety of languages, so that they can get help. Put a registry in place so we know which employers are here, who they have as temporary foreign workers, and what they're doing. Then we might know if British Columbians could do that work. Empower employment standards with some resources to be proactive, to put dedicated investigators in place and to protect those workers.

It doesn't happen today, and it won't happen if this government doesn't act. Why is the minister opposed to these basic supports for our most vulnerable workers?

 

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