Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

RBC outsourcing raises concerns over program

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TORONTO -- The increasingly widespread use of outsourcing and the way in which Canada's temporary foreign worker program could be used to facilitate the practice emerged as a key issue Tuesday in the controversy over the Royal Bank of Canada's decision to outsource dozens of Toronto jobs.

Many Canucks have lambasted RBC after it came to light Canada's largest bank contracted an external supplier called iGate to provide certain technology services, a decision that ousts 45 employees from their current roles.

Questions have been raised about how iGate brought its own employees into Canada under the temporary foreign worker program so they could be trained at RBC branches for the services they'll be providing to the bank. The program itself has been criticized as a tool that allows companies to opt for temporary workers who can be paid up to 15 per cent less than Canadians.

IGate told The Canadian Press on Tuesday it operates with a "high level of integrity" and will "fully co-operate" with a government investigation into the situation.

"IGate's hiring practices are in full compliance with all Canadian laws," said Jason Trussell, senior vice-president and regional head of iGate Canada.

Human Resources Minister Diane Finley has asked officials to review documents submitted by iGate after apparent discrepancies appeared between public statements made by RBC and information previously provided to the government by iGate.

"We are very concerned with recent issues involving the temporary foreign worker program," Finley's spokeswoman, Alyson Queen, said Tuesday.

"Officials are investigating recent reports concerning labour-market opinions granted to iGate and will look into any evidence that the program is being misused."

To obtain permits for temporary foreign workers, companies need to apply for labour-market opinions and show a Canadian cannot be found to do the work. One immigration expert said iGate may have received a positive labour-market opinion by demonstrating the permits it was seeking were for jobs that were never going to remain in Canada over the long term.

"The work permits haven't been issued with the intention of them doing work in Canada. These jobs are going to get outsourced to India, which is nothing illegal," said Toronto immigration lawyer Chantal Desloges.

"I think the public outrage is being directed towards temporary foreign workers, but it's not actually about that. What people are really upset about is jobs going to India, China."

Desloges added the labour-market opinion system runs on an honour-based system and could benefit from more oversight.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 10, 2013 B6

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