CBC Article “Others” Temporary Foreign Workers

This article has been spreading like wildfire since this morning, and I want to share my perspective on it.

First off, it is extremely one-sided, focusing only on the perspective of the two waitresses.  I’ll summarize my understanding of the other side of the story.  My understanding, from several different sources, is that the owners of Brothers Classic Grill and Pizza decided to restructure their restaurant hours because they were not busy enough to stay open throughout the entire day.  As many restaurants do, they moved to a split shift, opening for breakfast, closing for the afternoon, and opening again for supper.  Because of the restructuring of hours, there were less jobs available, so the owners dismissed the staff and then met with the employees to discuss reduced hours and/or different positions.  Some of the staff chose to stay and others chose to leave.  As far as I understand, the temporary foreign workers were already on staff previously, and no new workers were hired in place of anyone.  

Secondly, I found this article extremely problematic because it talks about the temporary foreign workers like they aren’t even people!  Nelson is quoted as saying, “How can that be right, that they’re not Canadians?  I’m a Canadian… How can it be that I’m the one out looking for a job and they’re the ones that are still employed?”  This article works to “other” temporary foreign workers to create an image of what “Canadian” is supposed to be – white and middle class.  Constructing an “other,” or someone to be marginalized, makes it easier for the majority to connect to each other, and it creates a mindset of superiority.  For example, for white people, “multiculturalism” often plays out like this – I’m up higher than you but I’m tolerating you, which shows what a good person and ‘real Canadian’ I am.  This mindset is destructively divisive, and I was disappointed and frustrated to see it in CBC’s article.  Additionally, the article doesn’t mention anything about which employees were better or harder workers, or about the staff dynamic and which employees worked well together; it solely focuses on white women (who fit the image of what “Canadian” is supposed to be) having their jobs stolen from foreign workers.  

I understand that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program has been and is being abused; however, I don’t believe this is one of those cases.  I believe the owners of Brothers had the right to do what is best for their business by changing their hours and laying off employees for financial reasons.  I hope people will read this CBC article with a critical lens and will not boycott the restaurant before hearing both sides of the story!  




14 thoughts on “CBC Article “Others” Temporary Foreign Workers

  1. karidavis8

    Thanks for sharing Raquel! I agree with you completely. There are so many other reasons for why this woman might not have a job anymore. If there is less hours then people will inevitably get laid off. I have been through a change in owners in my job teaching esthetics and it is a tough place to be regardless, for both employees and new employers. It is hard for new owners to try and get staff on board for any kinds of changes etc. I am kind of sick of people saying foreign workers are taking people’s jobs. They are adding to our economy by working jobs that not a lot of “Canadians” will do. Maybe if kids were still raised to work for their money or people were okay making minimum wage they wouldn’t need to hire outside the country, but for me I am glad they have the opportunity to hire outside the country! Its kind of what is making our economy work. Really glad you did a blog post…. now I don’t have to haha.

  2. KA

    Maybe if the companies offered better wages and working conditions, they would be able to find Canadians to fill those jobs, that is how the free economy is supposed to work. This is simple economics; when supply is low and demand is high, prices (or wages) go up. Instead they keep wages artificially low by bringing in foreigners who will work for peanuts and who will be too afraid to speak up for fear of being deported.

    This is not a case of not being able to find pickers for a time sensitive crop, this is being too damn cheap to pay decent wages. There is NO shortage of Canadian workers, there is a shortage of Canadian workers willing to work for peanuts.

    1. Rae

      “There is NO shortage of Canadian workers, there is a shortage of Canadian workers willing to work for peanuts.”

      This is the best argument so far. This is the fine line we walk with the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, what’s the right balance of “filling workforce gaps” and “providing a proper wage for the nature of work and availability of labour”. Where does the responsibility of the owner of a particular business to provide appropriate wages start and end? When does a job become truly “unfillable” by a Canadian citizen? One would think that, at the appropriate wage, any job can be filled by a Canadian citizen, but where is the line of unreasonableness get drawn and bringing in temporary workers become appropriate? This needs to be established by lawmakers.

      1. Ice

        purtroppo non è simile.Amazon vende ed in questo caso noleggia un bene che è di sua &qtou;proprietà".Italia-Programmi invece ti diceva che potevi scaricare dei programmi gratuiti che si trovano tranquillamente in circolazione, ma te li faceva pagare, senza poi nemmeno girare parte di quest'indebito introito ai creatori dei programmi in questione. La loro era una truffa a tutti gli effetti.

  3. Salter

    As a server I can vouch for the low wages but again I would point out I do not work for the hourly wage. As servers our money is made primarily in tips and our wage acts as supplementary income. As a former manager I can also vouch for the TFW program and how beneficial it is to an employer when no local hires are willing to fill a niche. It is unfortunate that local talent is looking to make a fortune instantly and cannot appreciate a steady source of income which reflects their qualifications. This is a wonderful country one that I hope can challenge common sense and think about both sides like Raquel said. If the business has to close its doors because “Canadian” workers are unwilling to work there then that is lost economy for the city. Do this enough times and you begin to see the impact of closed businesses.

  4. Jason

    This is a ridiculous response what does being white have to do with anything?
    The fact is the temp foreign worker program is supposed to supply workers when there are no Canadians that can take the position. You question the fact the foreign workers may be harder workers. The two servers have worked there over 20 years. I think they are just fine and if they somehow got terrible they should have been written up warned and let go then replaced with another Canadian looking for a job. If Canada does not penalize the companies abusing this law you may find yourself replaced at your job from a foreign worker willing to do your job for less money.

    1. Audrey

      I really don’t understand all the talk of “Canadians”, “white people” and “TFW”? These are all just “people” and should be judged as such. If you all did a bit of research, you might discover why TFW are hired. They take jobs that most others feel are “beneath” them and the TFW usually work their tails off. At all kinds of crappy hours and jobs. We all live in this country, therefore, we ARE ALL Canadians. It just may be that we all need to pull up our socks and work a little harder at our jobs or pale in comparison.

    2. Barb Tremblay

      when ppl say Canadians it does not mean white middle class…it means born here or with the right to work here…ppl think that if you are against this program you must be a racist, but that is not the truth, it is the program and the ppl abusing it not the ppl being brought in to work that ppl have an issue you with and it is happening over and over again. In this case it may not be the whqat happened…but the response from the business owner was not exactly crystal clear. So for those ppl that think this is a race issue think again.

  5. Brandon

    Where do you guys get this working for peanuts shit? You think they are not payed minimum wage and that Canadians are getting 22$ a hour to work at fast food? Hardly a profit margin unless you are a large scale business with thousands of employes.

    1. HR

      These working for peanuts arguments are made only by people with a total lack of understanding of the TFW program.

      In accordance with the Government of Canada, for a TFW, “the wages you are offering are consistent with the prevailing wage rate paid to Canadians in the same occupation in the region”.

      It seems that many commenters on this issue have some reading to do.

  6. Frustrated by the Political Correctness BS

    See, this entire article represents one of the biggest problems in Canada (as well as the USA).
    With the borders so OPEN, more and more people (I don’t care where they are coming from) are arriving in the country. According to the Government of Canada website – averaging approximately 260,000 have been entering the country every year since 2000. In the last 14 years that adds up to an additional 3.6 Million people. In 2013, 102000 new jobs were created in Canada, over the same 14 years – thats new jobs of 1.4 Million. SO – there are 2.2 Million people who have arrived in Canada with no job for them – If they are working, they effectively have displaced an existing Canadian. This article spins the “oh, you’re being intolerant BS” that is designed to make us all feel guilty, WELL NO MORE!! This example in Saskatchewan is nothing more than an example of those 2.2 Million immigrants DISPLACING an existing Canadian, and our Immigration policy is the issue that needs to be addressed. This is not about race, its about money and the policy is encouraging it at the expense of everyday want-to-be-hard-working Canadians – Close the BORDERS!!!!

  7. KA

    My point was that when there is a shortage of workers, wages should increase. Sure they get paid the prevailing wage (which all too often is the minimum wage), but if the economy was allowed to work the way it should the free market would result in higher wages. Like I said, simple economic principles. When the work is crappy, dangerous or monotonous, wages also tend to increase. You get what you pay for. You want quality employees? Pay better wages, have better working conditions.

    Yes, it is cheaper to fire workers that have been there for years who make a higher wage and then hire a bunch of foreigners at minimum wage, people who are too afraid to ask for a raise or better working conditions because if they lose their job, back to their country they go. This sort of behaviour by employers keep wages artificially low.

    For those of you who say your wages depend on tips, that is fine for you but many of these workers do not get tips, minimum wage is it. Check out the list of employers who have qualified to hire TFW over a 2 year period, the document is 475 PAGES long!


    Perhaps some of you have some reading to do, I suggest an economics textbook.

  8. rygar

    Simply put, it is the program itself and programs like it (ultimately the government itself) that creates the distaste and division of people. What ends up appearing on the outside to be discrimination is no more than distaste for the government and the mess it makes. Instead of blaming the fish for swimming in the pond, perhaps one should be looking at those coming up with these ridiculous programs in the first place.


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