Provincial Governments Should Use Their Constitutional Powers To Calm The Frenzy Of Ottawa And Business About “Worker Shortages”
Two provincial governments have recently announced that they will use Ottawa's provincial nominee programme to recruit foreign workers. Before going any further,both should be taking a sober look at the questionable “worker shortage” statistics they have been given. Instead of stampeding down the “worker shortage” path, they should be using their constitutionally-granted immigration powers to put their emphasis on hiring unemployed Canadians and to calm frenzied Ottawa.
In response to an alleged labour shortage, Ottawa has been encouraging provincial governments to get involved in nominating immigrants. Employers are supposed to begin the process by identifying jobs that need to be filled. Provincial governments then try to match foreign workers with employer requests.
B.C. and Manitoba are two provinces currently making use of the provincial nominee programme.
British Columbia has said it has signed an agreement with the Philippines to recruit 30,000 workers per year. B.C. Economic Development Minister Colin Hansen has said the province will need 350,000 workers over the next 12 years. The B.C. Trucking Association claims that trucking firms will need 5000 new drivers each year, particularly for long haul work. The Canadian Restaurant and Food Services Association has said up to 44,000 new jobs will have to be filled by 2015. The B.C. Hotels Association says it may need up to 20,000 foreign workers.
However, the labour shortage claims seem to be inflated and unverified. Also, the claims are being made at a time when Ontario and Quebec are experiencing a steep decline in manufacturing jobs.
The following question has to be asked: What sense does it make to look for workers outside of Canada when workers are available here?
The other big issue is whether these jobs are McJobs, that is, jobs that a worker cannot live on and which immigrants will soon vacate. This will soon necessitate another army of immigrants to fill the vacated McJobs—and then another army….
(Immigration Watch Canada.org provides the following link to an earlier analysis of similar highly suspicious worker shortage claims for B.C. and Alberta:
Although federal MP's from all parties also seem to believe Canada has a labour shortage, B.C.'s NDP Labour Critic is expressing serious reservations. He says that many Canadian workers are employed part-time and that foreign workers should not get preference for full-time jobs.
Ironically for the B.C. NDP Labour Critic, Manitoba's NDP government seems to have converted to the worker shortage religion. It has sent a delegation, which includes Premier Gary Doer, to the Philippines to sign an immigration agreement with Filipino government officials. No numbers have been announced. Filipinos are the largest immigrant group in Manitoba, making up 25% of all immigrants.
Mr. Doer and his delegation probably enjoyed a warm break from Winterpeg. When they get back to cold reality, they should remember an equally cold reality: many Manitoba Native reserves have 75%+ unemployment rates. Mr. Doer and his group have to ask themselves an important question: Who gets the first shot at jobs: people from across the Pacific or (1) those on the many Manitoba reserves and (2) those registered for work at Manitoba Employment Insurance offices?
Canada's second largest immigration office is in the Philippines. Federal Immigration Minister Diane Finley has just announced plans to add three officers to the staff at Canada's embassy in Manilla to accommodate recent recruitment, particularly of temporary workers.
Ms. Finley has stated that her government “supports the Filipino community in Canada”. Ms. Finley has to apply some blunt logic to this situation. She has to remember that she is supposed to be playing for the home team. Her job is to keep her eyes on the puck and not to have the other team fake her out with tricky stick-handling.
Both provinces, as well as others who are considering the use of immigration to solve their problems, should really be looking at their own immigration powers to drag Ottawa (kicking and screaming), away from economically and environmentally-destructive immigration policies. Rather than complain about immigration being beyond their jurisdiction, they should remember that British Columbia used its constitutional immigration powers to curb cheap labour practices 100 years ago. At that time, it took a number of attempts to get Ottawa's attention, but Ottawa finally did something to protect Canadian workers–an action that it previously did not want to take.
Section 95 of Canada's constitution clearly states that provincial legislatures “may make laws…in relation to immigration into the province”. Those laws will be recognized as long as they are “not
repugnant to any Act of the Parliament of Canada”.
The B.C. experience showed that Ottawa could be persuaded to pass immigration Acts that put the interests of B.C. workers first.
The full Section 95 reads as follows:
AGRICULTURE AND IMMIGRATION
Concurrent Powers of Legislation respecting Agriculture, etc.
95. In each Province the Legislature may make Laws in relation to Agriculture in the Province, and to Immigration into the Province; and it is hereby declared that the Parliament of Canada may from Time to Time make Laws in relation to Agriculture in all or any of the Provinces, and to Immigration into all or any of the Provinces; and any Law of the Legislature of a Province relative to
Agriculture or to Immigration shall have effect in and for the Province as long and as far only as it is not repugnant to any Act of the Parliament of Canada.
Immigration Watch Canada.org provides the following related links from the UK.