The majority of Canadians have problems with temporary foreign workers taking jobs that Canadians could do, according to a poll on the country's immigration system.
Sixty-eight per cent of respondents in the CBC/Nanos survey said they "oppose" or "somewhat oppose" allowing temporary foreign workers into the country if there are Canadians looking for work who are qualified for the same jobs. Six per cent were unsure.
The survey results were released on Monday, hours after Immigration Minister Jason Kenney unveiled details of a new program intended to speed the arrival to Canada of foreign tradespeople whose skills are in demand.
Kenney said the Skilled Trades Stream will accept up to 3,000 foreign workers next year, and touted the program as a way to address labour shortages, particularly in remote regions of the country.
The federal government is working with provinces, territories and labour groups to draw up a list of occupations that will be eligible. It's expected to include electricians, welders, heavy equipment mechanics and pipefitters.
Michael Atkinson, president of the Canadian Construction Association, argued the new program will help reduce the country's reliance on temporary labour.
"It was easier under the points system to get in if you had a post-doctorate degree in ancient Greek pottery as opposed to somebody who has 20 years' experience as a welder or an electrician," he said.
The CBC/Nanos survey results also suggest the bulk of Canadians believe that refugee claimants should have a right to appeal if their application is denied — regardless of where they came from.
Forty-nine percent of respondents said they "support" or "somewhat support" the idea of a right to appeal for refugee claimants who come from countries Canada deems safe, compared to 37 per cent who were against that proposition. Thirteen per cent were unsure.
Refugee system overhaul
Under new rules that go into effect Dec. 15 as part of an overhaul of Canada's refugee system, the federal government will create a list of countries from which refugee claims will be scrutinized more closely.
The first designated country of origin list will also be released on Dec. 15 and will include countries which produce large numbers of rejected asylum claims.
Would-be refugees from those countries will have their claims heard within 30 to 45 days and they will lose the ability to appeal a negative decision at the newly created refugee appeal division.
Seventy-one per cent of respondents said they were against providing further entitlements to refugee claimants "for more free benefits" beyond basic health care. Twenty-one per cent were against the idea and seven per cent were unsure.
Fifty-six per cent of respondents said they were at least somewhat satisfied with Ottawa's immigration policy, compared to 44 per cent who were dissatisfied or somewhat dissatisfied with it. Fourteen per cent were unsure.
The CBC/Nanos survey was conducted Dec. 3-4 and included responses from 1,000 Canadians aged 18 or older. There is no margin of error stated for the online survey.
The data was weighted using the latest census results to ensure the final sample represents the Canadian population. Nanos Research believes it to be a true reflection of Canadian opinion at the time of the research.
Labour Day: A Canadian Invention
Few Canadians realize it, but Labour Day is as Canadian as maple bacon. It all began in 1872, when the Toronto Typographical Union went on strike to demand a nine-hour workday. When <i>Globe and Mail</i> chief George Brown had the protest organizers arrested, Prime Minister John A. Macdonald passed a law legalizing labour unions. Thus, a Conservative prime minister became a hero to the working class, and Canada became among the first countries to limit the workday, doing so decades before the U.S. The typographers' marches became an annual event, eventually being adopted by the U.S., becoming the modern day Labour Day.
The Winnipeg General Strike
The end of World War I brought social instability and economic volatility to Canada. On May 15, 1919, numerous umbrella union groups went out on strike in Winnipeg, grinding the city to a halt. Protesters were attacked in the media with epithets such as "Bolshevik" and "Bohunk," but resistance from the media and government only strengthened the movement. In June, the mayor ordered the Mounties to ride into the protest, prompting violent clashes and the death of two protesters. After protest leaders were arrested, organizers called off the strike. But the federal mediator ended up ruling in favour of the protesters, establishing the Winnipeg General Strike as the most important strike in Canadian history, and a precursor to the country's modern labour movement.
The Regina Riot
During the Great Depression, the only way for a single male Canadian to get government assistance was to join "relief camps" -- make-work projects set up by the federal government out of concern idle young men were a threat to the nation. The relief camps, with their poor work conditions, became breeding grounds for communists and other radicals. The "On-To-Ottawa Trek" was organized as a protest that would move from Vancouver across the country to Ottawa, to bring workers' grievances to the prime minister. The trek halted in Regina when Prime Minister R.B. Bennett promised to talk to protest organizers. When talks broke down, the RCMP refused to allow the protesters to leave Regina and head for Ottawa, and on June 26, 1935, RCMP riot officers attacked a crowd of protesters. More than 100 people were arrested and two killed -- one protester and one officer.
In May, 1938, unemployed men led by communist organizers occupied a post office and art gallery in downtown Vancouver, protesting over poor work conditions at government-run Depression-era "relief camps." In June, the RCMP moved in to clear out the occupiers, using tear gas inside the post office. The protesters inside smashed windows for air and armed themselves with whatever was available. Forty-two people, including five officers, were injured. When word spread of the evacuation, sympathizers marched through the city's East End, smashing store windows. Further protests against "police terror" would be held in the weeks to come.
Giant Mine Bombing
In 1992, workers at Royal Oak Mines' Giant Mine in the Northwest Territories went on strike. On September 18, a bomb exploded in a mineshaft deep underground, killing nine replacement workers. Mine worker Roger Warren was convicted of nine counts of second-degree murder. The Giant Mine closed in 2004.
The Toronto G20
The Canadian Labour Congress, representing numerous labour groups, participated in protests in Toronto during the G20 summit in June, 2010. When a handful of "Black Block" anarchists rioted through the city core, it brought an overwhelming police response that resulted in the largest mass arrests in Canadian history. More than 1,000 people were arrested, with most never charged with any crime. Numerous allegations of police brutality have been made, and the Toronto police are now the target of several multi-million dollar lawsuits. So far, two police officers have been charged with crimes relating to G20 policing, and charges against other police officers are also possible.
When Vancouver-based magazine Adbusters suggested the public "occupy Wall Street" to protest corporate malfeasance, New Yorkers took the suggestion seriously, and occupied Zuccotti Park in Manhattan. Canadians followed suit, sparking copycat occupations in all major Canadian cities in September, 2011. By December, most of the occupations had been cleared, all of them non-violently. Though the protests achieved no specific goals, they did change the political conversation in North America. What their long-term legacy will be remains to be seen.