05/02/2014 06:56 EDT | Updated 07/02/2014 05:59 EDT

Temporary foreign worker advocates speak out

Advocates for temporary foreign workers say they should be supported, not deported and are calling for a pathway to permanent residency for temporary foreign workers already working in Canada.

They want an independent audit of the Temporary Foreign Worker program..

Representatives from the federal and provincial NDP joined Migrante-BC, a community based organization of Filipinos Friday, to denounce the federal government's moratorium on the program. 

They claim it puts workers from abroad at even greater risk of abuse and exploitation.

"It effectively slams the door shut on many who have likely paid thousands of dollars already for jobs here, and have families depending on the remittance they send home for their basic needs," said Jane Ordinario, Migrante-BC coordinator.

NDP Member of Parliament Jinny Sims called the program fundamentally flawed and a far cry from its original design, which sought to bring in highly skilled workers for short term contracts.

"Now we're seeing the program being used and abused to not only hurt very vulnerable temp foreign workers who arrive in this country, but also to suppress wages for those working in Canada, Canadian citizens, permanent residents and arrivals," said Sims.

She said the NDP is not opposed to a temporary foreign worker program that is narrow, highly regulated and well enforced.

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program is under intense parliamentary scrutiny following a series of allegations about its abuse by the Royal Bank of Canada, three McDonald's franchises in Victoria, and a pizza restaurant in Weyburn, Saskatchewan.