A Filipino man working at a St. John's restaurant fears his dream of becoming a Canadian citizen is disappearing because of the current moratorium on temporary foreign workers.

The federal government imposed a moratorium on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program for the food service industry last month, in the wake of allegations that some workers were being abused through the program.

Zacharias Manuel has been working as a chef at Blue on Water in downtown St. John's for almost a year.

"This is a big chance for me," he told CBC News.

Leslie Brake

Leslie Brake, owner of Blue on Water, says the moratorium on temporary foreign workers is hurting people like Zacharias Manuel. (CBC)

"I enjoy my work, it's almost the same as what as I was doing on [the]

cruise ships."

Manuel, who is a trained garder mange chef, worked on cruise ships for 15 years.

He said this job is an opportunity to become a citizen and hopefully bring his family to the province.  

In a tight spot

Blue on Water owner Leslie Brake said she could not find a Canadian to fill Manuel's position. 

"Right now there is a dire need for qualified workers for our kitchens," Brake said.

Brake agrees the Temporary Foreign Worker Program should be scrutinized — but said the moratorium is hurting those it's supposed to protect.

Zacharias Manuel prepping food in kitchen

Zacharias Manuel, who is a trained garder mange chef, wants to become a Canadian citizen and eventually bring his family to the province. (CBC)

"They have no idea what's happening. They are not receiving any correspondence as far as I know, and so, it's making them very worried." 

But the moratorium means Manuel's dream might slip away if his work permit is not renewed.

"I feel sad and very disappointed," Manuel said.  

Manuel is one of many people who may be affected — there are now more than 10,000 temporary foreign workers in Atlantic Canada alone.