EDITORIAL: Why we need foreign workers

Those who say 'Canadian jobs are for Canadians' are right, but what if there aren’t enough Canadians to fill those jobs – or want jobs?

The temporary foreign worker program is unfair to Canadian and foreign workers.

This controversy has been an ongoing issue for more than two years. It reared its head again two weeks ago when three Victoria McDonald’s Restaurant locations had hired foreign workers in place of Canadians. On Thursday, Employment Minister Jason Kenney suspended the food industry’s access to the program, pending a review, amid allegations of rule breaking.

It’s easy to suggest the federal government should let free market forces of supply and demand address shortfalls in the labour market.

The only problem is Canada doesn’t have enough workers and the situation is only going to get worse without opening the doors to more immigrants.

At the moment, one in six Canadian employers is reporting “shortage of un/semi-skilled labour” as a major business problem; nearly a third are reporting “shortage of skilled labour.” Unemployment is near or below what is conventionally considered “zero” in every province west of Ontario

(and that’s after the foreign workers have raised those unemployment rates a percentage point, as one recent study suggests).

The simplistic solution to the problem is to raise the minimum wage to encourage Canadians to lineup and take those jobs, but that won’t wash well with business owners, nor will it help in the long term.

As Canadians age (watch out, the Baby Boomers are beginning to retire), the need for more workers and tax dollars will be needed more than ever to keep the country afloat.

Those who say “Canadian jobs are for Canadians” are right, but what if there aren’t enough Canadians to fill those jobs – or want jobs?

Immigration is the only answer.

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