An ongoing battle between McDonald's and the federal government over its use of temporary foreign workers has taken news spotlights recently, but a franchise owner and Liberal MHA in St. John's isn't worried about her use of the program.
The CEO of McDonald's Canada told franchisee owners that a series of CBC stories is an attack on the company, while Ottawa has imposed a moratorium on hiring temporary foreign workers in the food service industry.
- McDonald's Canada CEO calls foreign worker controversy 'bullshit'
- Temporary Foreign Worker Program for fast-food sector suspended by Ottawa
Cathy Bennett, who was elected in the Virginia Waters byelection on April 9, said the problems faced by the national chain aren't likely to impact her restaurant locations.
Before her career in politics, Bennett was a recognizable name in the business industry, and had worked her way up the McDonald's ladder.
She currently operates eight franchises in the St. John's area.
Bennett said she's comfortable with her use of the program to hire the temporary foreign workers at her locations.
"I think it's important to remember this program is about people. I'm very comfortable that our company, and we as a company, have acted ethically and honestly as an employer," she said.
"We always put people first and will continue to employ Newfoundland and Labradorians first."
Bennett says restaurants passed previous audits
Currently, 21 temporary foreign workers are employed at her restaurants — a small portion of the hundreds of local people Bennett said she hires each year.
According to Bennett, the decision to hire temporary foreign workers stemmed from troubles with a restaurant operating on restricted hours she had trouble staffing.
"I'm confident, based on the fact that I have been audited by Service Canada in February of 2013, that our practices inside Bennett Restaurants are consistent with what is considered to be best practices and we'll continue to operate that way," said Bennett.
Bennett said until the federal review of the program is complete, no new temporary workers will be coming to Canada, but those already here can continue to work.
She said all her employees will be treated equally when it comes to wages, hours and opportunities.