Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program has come under fire lately after a few companies abused the rules, but some people using the program in New Brunswick say it does more good than harm.
Thousands of companies across Canada hire temporary foreign workers. The number has tripled to over 300,000 in the past decade. Under the rules, the workers are supposed to fill immediate skills and labour shortages that cannot first be filled by Canadians.
More than 400 New Brunswick companies and organizations have applied to bring in workers to fill positions under the program, according to federal government documents recently obtained by the Globe and Mail through Access to Information laws.
Some of the companies on the list that sought to hire temporary foreign workers between 2010 and 2012 include restaurants, health care companies and factories, even Horizon Health Network and Ambulance New Brunswick.
Andrei Bujdoso says he arrived in Canada 26 years ago with $3 in his pocket. Now he and his wife, Maria, have five tailoring stores where they sew uniforms for military and police departments across the country.
They say they tried repeatedly to find skilled Canadian tailors to help in their stores.
"We tried to hire. We put ads all over the country, everywhere," said Maria Bujdoso.
"We couldn't find [anybody] to come and do the work we have to do, especially when we do work for military and the police and all these specialized uniforms."
At one point, Andrei Bujdoso says he even advertised to train local people. Only one person decided to take him up on it. She became a tailor, but moved to Nova Scotia to open her own shop.
Over the past few months, CBC News has reported on alleged abuses of the system such as companies hiring foreign workers over Canadians and treating some like indentured servants.
Andrei Bujdoso, who has hired around 45 workers through the program in the past 25 years, says he would hate to see the program cancelled because of those types of employers.
“This program is important for many employers. It's too bad that some people are abusing it.” he said.
“Without the temporary foreign workers, I would not be where I am now. I couldn't do it.”
Bujdoso says he is proud that 19 out of their 22 workers are now either Canadian residents or Canadian citizens.
One of his employees who hopes to join their ranks is Vasile Blanaru who has a one-year temporary foreign worker permit. The master tailor from Romania hopes to bring his family here and to live in Canada.