Calgary's Filipino community is speaking out in support of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in the wake of Ottawa’s decision to put a moratorium on the fast food industry’s participation in it.
On Wednesday night more than 100 people gathered for a forum on International Avenue in the city’s southeast to get the word out that many city businesses depend on the men and women who mop the floors and work the drive-throughs under the program.
“We’re really sad right now that hundreds of thousands of Filipinos will be affected by this moratorium,” said organizer Paolo Oliveros.
“But we are hopeful that we can appeal to the Canadian government to review … the moratorium because it will impact not the TFWs but the economy as a whole.”
Employment Minister Jason Kenney announced the moratorium last week after allegations surfaced that some food service businesses were abusing the program.
Chris De Guzman, a cook who hopes one day to become a Canadian citizen, says he fears he'll be forced out of this country.
“Please give us a chance to extend our stays or at least help us to pursue our dreams, become an immigrant in this country,” he said.
"I have a son back in the Philippines as well. He's into school and if they're going to return me back, everything is going to collapse. Please don't take our dreams back."
Shelley Twidale, who owns three Little Caesars pizza franchises, says Alberta's oil sector is boosting salaries, making it difficult to find Canadians willing to work in fast food.
"You know we just kept trying and trying to hire Canadians,” she said.
“The foreign workers that we have are amazing. They’re goers, they just go, go, go. They are really hard-working.”