Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. Premier Chides Federal Overhaul of Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. Premier Chides Federal Overhaul of Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Article excerpt

Premier says B.C. needs temporary foreign workers

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VANCOUVER - British Columbia Premier Christy Clark has accused federal politicians of "tragically misdirected" policies over the issue of temporary foreign workers, as she pushes for the thousands of skilled labourers needed for her envisioned liquefied natural gas industry.

Clark took a bold stand in a speech to the province's business community Thursday, just ahead of her government's return to the legislature and planned introduction of new LNG laws.

She told the Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon that as federal election campaigning unfolds, leaders in Ottawa must stop playing politics over the controversial program.

"We should not think about people who come from across the world to British Columbia to work as being something less than the rest of us," she said, after laying out her Liberal government's priorities.

"So my advice to federal politicians is this: If you want to fix the temporary foreign workers program, maybe they should start with changing the name.

"Call them 'potential new Canadians,' because they're coming here to help us build our country."

The premier added her voice to other western leaders critical of the federal government's program overhaul, arguing new rules are too onerous for provinces facing genuine labour shortages.

In June, Federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney laid out plans to limit how many foreign workers can be hired by large- and medium-sized companies. Kenney also included tougher penalties for companies found in violation of the rules and ordered inspections to deter abuses.

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice said last week that labour policy will top his agenda when he gets his first meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The B.C. Liberals also want to mitigate an expected dearth of labour, which will only grow larger if their LNG plans are successful.

Clark said her government is attempting to re-engineer secondary and post-secondary programs to ensure young people are properly trained for skills-intensive work. …

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