Days after two large B.C. unions announced that they would ask the Federal Court to overturn a decision granting work permits for Chinese mine workers, the federal government is back-pedalling on a decision to grant the permits.
In a statement issued yesterday, federal human resources minister Diane Finley announced that the government is reviewing Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program and that it’s “not satisfied” with the process that led to the permits being granted to approximately 200 Chinese workers bound for a northern B.C. coal mine.
“In particular, we are not satisfied that sufficient efforts were made to recruit or train Canadians interested in these jobs,” she said. “Specifically, the requirement that applicants have skills in a foreign language does not appear to be linked to a genuine job requirement.”
Finley was referencing media reports that various ads for the jobs at a Dehua Mines subsidiary’s planned Murray River mine stipulated that workers needed to speak Mandarin.
Finley said it is clear to the government that there are problems with the TFW program, and that it is now reviewing the program.
“Litigation could impede this work and lead to court battles rather than a genuine fix,” she added.
Finley also said that the government recognizes the impact the review may have on Canadians employed in connection with the Dehua Mines project.
“We will seek to avoid unintended harm to their jobs,” she said.
Key figures from B.C.’s mining industry recently told Business in Vancouver that, as the province heads into a skills crunch, it needs access to the TWF program.