Major changes to the temporary foreign worker program are needed to protect all workers, says the P.E.I. Federation of Labour.

'If they are needed here, bring them in as immigrants.' - Carl Pursey, P.E.I. Federation of Labour

Federation president Carl Pursey said the current program creates a class of vulnerable employees that employers can use to pit worker against worker. 

"It has gotten completely out of hand. And all the tinkering with it, it is just not fixing the thing," said Pursey.

"It's creating a race to the bottom with all workers. It's just that the thing needs to be policed and controlled."

He said lower-skilled newcomers must have access to permanent residency.

"If they are needed here, bring them in as immigrants," said Pursey.

"Let's address the problem, and if we need more workers bring them in. And this whole problem should be tied to the unemployment rate …  and there needs to be some money put in for retraining. "

An independent, migrant worker commission needs to be set up, said Pursey, with the mandate to investigate, monitor and ensure that workers' rights are being respected.