Gord Nixon, the CEO of RBC, must have been pretty surprised when his bank’s move to outsource 45 jobs to contracted workers became a national controversy.
After all, both outsourcing and the use of temporary foreign workers has become commonplace in Canada.
RBC’s move would see at least some of the contracted workers come to Canada as temporary foreign workers to be trained for their jobs by the current workers who are losing theirs.
While RBC has now admitted their move was insensitive, the controversy obscures the fact that thousands of Canadian employers use temporary foreign workers.
And while the program is ostensibly designed to help employers fill positions when no Canadians can be found to do the job, the use of this program at companies like Tim Hortons and Denny’s suggests employers are using it much more broadly than originally intended.
Critics of the TFW program say it’s been made all the worse by two new elements of the program: The ability of employers to pay TFWs 15 per cent below market rates; and the creation of a new “fast-track” process for approving some of the TFW applications.
While this program is meant to be used to bring high-skilled labour to Canada quickly, it appears it’s being used by thousands of companies that have little obvious need for specialized labour -- such as coffee shops and hotel chains.
The Alberta Federation of Labour recently obtained a list of more than 4,000 companies that have used the “fast-track” process since it came into existence a year ago, in April, 2012.
We took that list and combined it with the Globe and Mail’s list of largest Canadian employers to find out which of them are using the “fast-track” process.
Of the 50 largest Canadian employers, Huffington Post was able to confirm that at least 18 of them were on the AFL’s list.
Here is the list. Keep in mind this doesn’t even list all companies using the TFW program -- just those using the “fast-track” process meant for high-skilled labour.
And yes, RBC is on the list, even though CEO Gord Nixon earlier this week denied that RBC uses temporary foreign workers directly.