Nova Scotia

Temporary foreign worker in Pictou worries he may have to leave

David Gutierrez moved from the Philippines to Pictou, N.S., five years ago and landed a job at a Subway restaurant. But he might soon have to leave Canada.

David Gutierrez supports wife and 4 kids with Subway job, and is racing to find a way to stay in N.S.

David Gutierrez supports his family in the Philippines with his Subway salary. (CBC)

David Gutierrez moved from the Philippines to Pictou, N.S., five years ago and landed a job at a Subway restaurant. Since then, he’s worked his way up to manager and handles all aspects of the business, from making sandwiches to managing inventory to scheduling employees.

But he might soon have to leave Canada.

The federal government is refusing to renew his temporary foreign worker permit, following a crackdown last year on the program to cut the number of such workers in Canada.

The federal government introduced new rules last June barring employers from hiring low-wage temporary foreign workers in regions where the unemployment rate is above six per cent, and requiring employers to cap the number of foreign workers they hire at 10 per cent by 2016.

Gutierrez is desperately studying to acquire his grade 12 equivalency so he can enter a different immigration stream, the provincial nominee program.

But he worries that once his current permit expires on March 31, he'll be forced to return to the Philippines before qualifying as a provincial nominee.

"I'm very worried," he says.

He sends 70 per cent of his income back to the Philippines to support his wife and four children, aged five to 17. At 42 years old, he worries he will find no work in the Philippines.

Plea for more time

His employer, franchise owner Greg Burrows, has been trying for months to secure a way for Gutterez to stay. He notes that 10 other of his employees who began as temporary foreign workers have successfully entered the provincial nominee program or become permanent residents.

The problem is that Gutierrez falls just short of education standard. He is studying diligently through a local adult education program.

However, Burrows says there won't be enough time before Gutierrez's foreign worker permit expires. He is urging he federal government to allow workers like Gutierrez to stay a little longer, giving them a chance for permanent residency.

He says Gutierrez is experienced managing the Subway, has been paying taxes for nearly six years, and is just the kind of immigrant Nova Scotia needs.

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