mi-scotiabank-logo

A Scotiabank branch in Strathmore, Alta., east of Calgary. (CBC)

The president of the Bank of Nova Scotia says he does not plan to contract out positions held by Canadian employees as the controversy over banks hiring temporary foreign workers builds.

Brian Porter responded to questions during a reception in Halifax Monday night before an annual shareholders' meeting.

The Royal Bank of Canada's decision to replace dozens of employees with temporary foreign workers before moving the actual work offshore has upset thousands of its customers and raised questions about whether other banks are planning to follow suit.

"We’ve been dealing outside the country for more than 100 years in our international operations," said Porter.

"I'm not going to comment on the other bank's situation, but as we continue to grow our footprint we are creating jobs in Canada to manage that business offshore."

"We’re proud of our roots here in Halifax and across this country."

But there are allegations from at least one former Scotiabank employees that the same contracting out is happening in Scarborough.

Lisa Cobo was on contract for Scotiabank working as a technical writer for $50 an hour. She said her replacement was hired for $15 an hour.

"I was under that impression too, that if there’s a job in Canada it would first go to a Canadian, but that’s just not the case. The case is that Scotiabank needs to be cost effective," she said.

"The only reason Scotiabank and other banks and other companies are doing this is because they can."

Former employees at TD Bank say they have also been replaced.

It is against federal rules for any company to bring foreign workers into Canada temporarily if it will put citizens out of work. The federal government says it's investigating RBC's outsourcing of technology jobs.

The foreign workers who are taking over the RBC work in Toronto are employed by a multinational outsourcing firm from India – iGATE Corp. – which has a contract with the bank to provide IT services.

The head of RBC, Gord Nixon, denied the bank is replacing Canadian workers with temporary foreign workers, saying that the bank is providing jobs for anyone impacted by the move, which only involves one temporary foreign worker.