More than 100 temporary foreign workers crowded into a room at the University of Alberta on Saturday to discuss what — if anything — could be done about their futures in Edmonton.
The federal government imposed a moratorium on the use of temporary foreign workers in the fast food industry in April. Many of the concerned workers sitting in that room would be forced to leave the country if the moratorium is not lifted.
There are hundreds of thousands of temporary foreign workers employed across the country, many of them in Alberta, which suffers from a labour shortage particularly in the restaurant and fast food industries.
Junniflor Mago came to Edmonton in 2008 searching for a new life.
“I came here because I thought there’s opportunity here,” she said.
Mago had plans to bring the rest of her family to Canada but now, she says she's not sure if she herself can even remain in Edmonton.
“If the moratorium is not lifted up, then after my restoration, I’m going to be sent home,” she said. “I had a dream to bring my family here… because I consider this my second home.”
New rules set to come into play
Employment Minister Jason Kenney is set to introduce at least two new rules for businesses that want to hire temporary foreign workers, including increasing the cost of hiring them and linking the number of foreign workers that can be used in a province to unemployment rates.
Thomas Lukaszuk, Alberta's jobs minister, said Ottawa’s proposed changes will not make the situation any better.
“It’s time to realize if we do indeed need those workers, then we need permanent foreign workers,” he said. “Let these people stay over here. Let them buy a house, buy a condo, buy a car. Let them bring their families here, invest in our community, become volunteers, become Canadians.”
Mago began to cry when discussing the possibility of leaving Canada.
“How can I have a dream of bringing [my family] here?” she said. “It’s tough with a moratorium right? I just have to hope that the government lifts it, then I continue on dreaming.”