Conservative Government Plays April Fool's Joke On Workers In Canada With "Four & Four" Rule

March 31, 2015 News

Welcome to CanadaTemporary Foreign Worker Program Amendment Makes Little Sense; Punishes Both Migrating and Canadian Workers and Is Bad for Business

TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – Mar 31, 2015) – Tomorrow, Stephen Harper’s Conservative Government will begin implementing its notorious “4 & 4” rule to the detriment of workers of all stripes. This rule will come into effect and its consequences will be catastrophic. Migrant workers under the so-called “low-skilled” streams of the federal government’s bungled Temporary Foreign Worker Program will be prohibited from working within Canada for four years if they have already worked in Canada for four years.

The April Fool’s joke being played on workers in Canada by the Conservative Government is no laughing matter. Migrant workers who have been in Canada for more than four years could face mass deportation, while others – such as live in caregivers – could lose access to permanent residency after years of struggle and separation from their families. To make matters worse, it seems that the federal government may also determine that migrant workers can be deported if they were victimized by the TFWP and forced by their employer to pay for the services of a recruitment agency. In short, migrant workers would be victimized twice.

“Contrary to the calls of UFCW Canada and migrant worker organizations across the country to create more roads to permanent residency, including residency upon arrival, the ‘4 & 4’ rule reinforces the existing vulnerabilities of migrant workers and adds new layers of precariousness to their work,” says Paul Meinema, UFCW Canada National President.

One would think that with all of the recent rhetoric by the Conservative Government about “Putting Canadians First,” these changes would at the least benefit permanent residents and Canadian citizens by decreasing unemployment in Canada. In this poorly thought out scheme, if the goal is to reduce unemployment in Canada, the ‘4 & 4’ rule does not support that aim.

“There is nothing in the ‘4 & 4’ rule that promotes training, skills development, or workforce mobilization in an effort to reduce the level of unemployment in Canada,” says Meinema.

On the other side of the coin, there are some unionized employers who have worked with UFCW Canada Local Unions to ensure that thousands of migrant workers have joined their respective provincial nominee programs and become permanent residents and Canadian citizens. These unionized employers have invested millions of dollars by way of recruiting, travel, accommodation, human resources, training, and equipping workers with the tools they need to do their job.

“Unfortunately, under the ‘4 & 4’ rule this immense investment is lost the moment the migrant worker is returned to their sending country. The same unionized employers are then forced to reinvest in a new cohort of migrant workers,” says the UFCW Canada National President. “By way of analogy, imagine running a business whereby every four years you lose your machinery or your facilities and must rebuild from scratch,” Meinema adds. “From this perspective, the ‘4 & 4’ rule is simply bad business.”

As Canada’s leading union, UFCW Canada is a member of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC). Working with community partners and allies across the country, MWAC has prepared a petition to Stephen Harper demanding that he put an end to the “4 & 4” rule and establish a progressive and economically viable immigration regime that does not treat workers as disposable commodities. By working together, we can build a Canada that works for everyone.

UFCW Canada
Naveen Mehta, General Counsel and Director of Human Rights,
Equity, and Diversity
(416) 679-3406