Federal HR minister taken to task over foreign workers court order

Human resources minister Diane Finley has been ordered by a federal court to “further consider the scope and nature of her compliance” with a previous ...

Human resources minister Diane Finley has been ordered by a federal court to “further consider the scope and nature of her compliance” with a previous court order, which required her to compel disclosure of documents relating to temporary foreign worker (TFW) permits for Chinese coal miners in B.C.

This follows a contempt of court application filed by B.C.’s building and trades unions against Finley. The application was triggered after the government claimed it had no power to force Chinese coal company HD Mining to produce documents relating to TFW permit applications that the court ordered to have turned over to the unions.

Charles Gordon, lawyer for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 115 and the Construction and Specialized Workers Union Local 1611, said the unions are pleased with the judge’s decision.

“It should strongly encourage the minister to ensure that HD Mining discloses the resumes of 300 Canadians who applied for coal mining jobs in Tumbler Ridge but were all rejected, leading to the government issuing temporary foreign worker permits for the Chinese coal miners,” said Gordon, referring to HD Mining’s claim that they had to hire overseas workers because there were no qualified Canadians available.

Mark Olsen, business manager for the Construction and Specialized Worker Union Local 1611, told Business in Vancouver the government has until January 21 to produce the documents.

“We hope now that the government and HD Mining realize the significance of this and that they need to disclose the resumes to prove their point [that there were no qualified Canadians available],” he continued, pointing out there are many unemployed miners in the province. “We don’t think they can prove it.”

Olsen said this will likely have a lasting impact on the TFW program in Canada.

“Amazingly, no one has challenged the basics of a program that brings 180,000 temporary foreign workers to Canada each year and asked for assurances that rules are followed to protect Canadian workers,” said Olsen.

“This case is changing all that.”

ecrawford@biv.com

@EmmaCrawfordBIV

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