As Employment Minister Jason Kenney gets ready to make changes to the federal government's Temporary Foreign Worker Program, the Liberals are putting forward their own amendment proposals.

Liberal critic for citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism John McCallum has filed a motion in the House of Commons calling on the government to make the program more transparent. 

The motion lists five amendments:

  • Establish a mandatory complaint tracking system.
  • Ensure compulsory and regular workplace audits.
  • Require mandatory disclosure of investigations into abuses of the program.
  • Establish a monthly disclosure regime that indicates the number of temporary foreign workers in Canada by region, National Occupation Classification code, and employer.

The TFW program was fodder for a heated back-and-forth discussion during Wednesday's question period in the House of Commons, with McCallum shooting a question at Immigration Minister Chris Alexander about why the government "is not doing anything to "to counter the exploitation of temporary foreign workers."

Differing TFW blacklists

"Will he tell us — given that there's zero employers on the list who have maltreated employees — why is this, is this not blanket evidence that they don't care when employees are maltreated?" McCallum asked.

Alexander responded by saying that McCallum was "plain wrong."

"There are employers on the list. Both [Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada] are taking action to ensure that [labour market opinions] are denied to those employers," he said. 

"There are new investigations underway. There is a moratorium in place for a large number of [labour market opinions] under the low-skilled class and we are proud of that record because we take the rules seriously," Alexander said.

It is likely McCallum and Alexander were referring to two different lists, one on Citizenship and Immigration Canada's website which does have zero listed, and the other on Employment and Social Development Canada's website with four employers listed. 

On the procedural front, it's still unclear when McCallum's motion might actually make it onto the floor of the House of Commons for debate.

Last year, temporary foreign workers filed at least 250 complaints across Canada about employers mistreating them, braving a system that critics say is designed to work against them.

But because only three provinces — Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador — routinely track complaints made by migrant workers, that number only represents a small slice of a potentially larger problem.

With files from Amber Hildebrandt