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!