Auditor general opens door to review of temporary foreign workers

As questions and controversy continue to swirl around alleged abuse of the temporary foreign workers program, Auditor General Michael Ferguson has opened — or, at least, not firmly closed — the door to a full review of the file. Kady O'Malley has the details.

AG Michael Ferguson 'well aware of the current debates concerning the program,' he tells Liberal MP

In a letter to Liberal MP John McCallum, Auditor General Michael Ferguson said he was 'well aware of the current debates' over the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, but stopped short of promising a full audit. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

It's not quite a yes, but it's not necessarily a flat no, either.

As questions and controversy continue to swirl around alleged abuse of the temporary foreign workers program, Auditor General Michael Ferguson has left the door open to a full review of the file.

In response to a formal request filed by Liberal immigration critic John McCallum last month, Ferguson said he will share the MP's concerns with the audit teams responsible for reviewing the two departments involved in the Temporary Foreign Workers Program — Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada — "for their information in planning for future audits."

While Ferguson's reply doesn't include a firm commitment to review the file, he does assure McCallum that he and his staff "are well aware of the current debates concerning the program."

He also doesn't seem to have a problem with McCallum appealing to him directly.

"It is helpful for me to know about the issues that preoccupy you as a parliamentarian, and I appreciate your taking the time to inform me of them."

Liberals want audit

In his April 22 letter, McCallum asked Ferguson to launch a full audit and evaluation of the program "as quickly as possible in order to provide your recommendations to the government."

He also acknowledged an earlier report on the program conducted by Ferguson's predecessor, Sheila Fraser, in 2009 but argued that, while it "raised many concerns about the TFWP, it did not examine if the program was being used to displace Canadian workers or drive down wages."

The House will spend Tuesday debating a Liberal-backed opposition motion that calls on the government to hand the file over to the auditor general for a full review.

Although it could go to a vote as early as this evening, it seems unlikely that the Conservative majority will let it pass.

Here's the full text of Ferguson's letter to McCallum:

Mobile users, read the AG's letter here.

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