SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Noel Wurst, Liz McMillan, Sean Houghton, Glenn Rossman, Ignacio M. Llorente

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Federal Government's International Experience Canada work permit program allows employers to hire Irish workers ahead of Canadian workers

VANCOUVER, March 7, 2014 /CNW/ - Ironworkers Local 97, representing structural and reinforcing ironworkers throughout British Columbia, today criticized the Federal Government's announcement that up to 10,700 International Experience Class (IEC) work permits will be issued allowing Irish people under the age of 35 to live and work in Canada for up to two years, saying this would lead to job losses and lower wages for Canadians.

The IEC Program, on its face, provides for 2,500 visas for young professionals, 500 visas for an international co-op category, and 7,700 visas for 'working holiday' applicants.

"This program circumvents the requirement for employers to prove there is a shortage of Canadian workers before hiring non-Canadians, and also removes the requirement for employers to pay the prevailing wage rate for a particular job," stated Doug Parton, Business Agent, Ironworkers, Local 97.

"Typically, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) requires an employer to demonstrate that it has advertised for a job vacancy but been unable to fill the position. HRSDC also requires an employer to pay that temporary foreign worker the prevailing wage rate for that position in Canada. While there have been abuses of the Temporary Foreign Worker program in the past, the Ironworkers Union continues to be supportive of the TFW Program, when it is properly policed," Doug Parton continued.

"However, the IEC program opens the door to over 10,000 Irish workers coming to Canada, potentially displacing Canadian workers, and potentially working for lower wages than those earned by Canadian workers," said Doug Parton.

"With very limited checks and balances in place, and none of the safeguards that the TFW Program has, Ironworkers Local 97 believes this program will be used to allow employers to circumvent the stricter requirements that the Federal Government introduced to restrict the flood of TFW's after the HD Mining case in British Columbia last year," continued Doug Parton.

"We are particularly concerned that 'Young Professional Category', which purportedly allows Irish students to further their careers by gaining work experience in Canada, in fact has no such restrictions and will allow anyone with a job offer from a Canadian employer to apply under this category," said  Doug Parton.

"Make no mistake, Ironworkers Local 97 is in favour of bringing in temporary foreign workers, when a skills shortage has been proven, in order that our contractors can continue to build British Columbia. We also support targeted immigration, and we are aware our country was built by immigrants. But this should only happen when an employer can show a demonstrable inability to hire Canadian workers, and when the temporary foreign worker is paid the same wage rate as a Canadian worker. Without these checks and balances in place, unscrupulous employers will take advantage of the IEC program as a means to lower their wage costs," concluded Doug Parton.

Ironworkers Local 97 is calling on Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander to direct officials in his department to ensure the IEC program is not abused by Canadian employers, and that the Young Professional Category visas are only issued to Irish students wanting to enhance their degree-related work experience. The Young Professional Category should not be used either to allow unemployed Irish construction workers to displace Canadian workers or to allow Canadian employers to avoid the requirements of the TFW program.

SOURCE Ironworkers Local 97

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