Has Canada betrayed its Immigrants?

In election time, the Harper Government is “Putting Canadians First”. This should not be true only in election time, but always.

But is also true that the same Harper Government has used Temporary Foreign Workers as political pawns, and now that the consequences of an stop gap ill conceived plan to bring immigrants to do minimum wage jobs are surfacing.

The Industry says that they have the immediate need for qualified foreign workers, yet the TFW program has only filled minimum wage works in the fast food, restaurants, farms, etc.

The unions say that the TFW program has kept wages artificially low, by importing cheap labour. Besides a TFW is not unionised and cannot strike.

Most of the work visas are expiring after April 1, with no path for a TFW to remain in Canada, a massive exodus of minimum-wage immigrant workers will begin, just in time for elections, only in Alberta, there could be up to 17000 TFWs, no one is keeping counts.

This just exposes a cruel truth, Immigrants don’t vote.

Heart breaking cases such as the one of Maria Victoria Venancio brings to light the gaps of the TFW program. A TFW works, earns a living, and pays taxes, but its denied all the privileges of a citizen.

Imagine a Canadian going to work to a fast food chain, for a minimum wage, getting hit by a car and being left quadriplegic. It’s a tragedy, but as Canadian, his healthcare is covered, empolyment insurance kicks in, and with time and patience, he can recover and return to be a productive worker.

If the same happens to a TFW, there is no coverage. Tough luck. Go back home.

I am an Immigrant, by choice, and I am eternally grateful to this country that opened its arms to me, and allowed me to bring my wife, and have my two daughters born here. But the treatment that we are giving TFWs is not Canadian.

Canada is a country built by immigrants, but now, as TFWs don’t have a path to remain in Canada as permanent residents and eventually become citizens (who can vote), they enter a legal limbo and they must make the choice between returning home, or staying illegally in this country, creating a sub-culture of illegal workers.

The immigration system is broken, and now it’s harder than ever to come and immigrate to Canada. The idea was to bring to Canada qualified immigrants that contribute to society, the promise was that with hard work, Canada can provide opportunities for a good life. Now I am not sure any more.

Two Celebrations today!

Today I have two reasons to celebrate.

First: Eight Years ago I arrived to Canada as an Immigrant. As always, and year after year, the balance has been on the positive side. I cannot complain. It has been wonderful to come and live in Canada, a country that opened its welcoming arms from the first day, and it’s more wonderful that my wife (best friend and lover) has also decided to come along for the adventure.

Second: St. Patrick’s Day.

Two very good reasons to keep Guinness in business.