Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Backers fear for foreign workers

Potential backlash concerns advocates

  • Print
Diwa Marcelino is concerned about discrimination against foreign workers.


Diwa Marcelino is concerned about discrimination against foreign workers. Photo Store

The controversy over restaurants hiring temporary foreign workers instead of Canadians is serving up a nasty side dish of xenophobia, say those who work with newcomers.

"We've heard even from so-called progressives 'These workers are stealing jobs from our kids,' " said Diwa Marcelino with Damayan Manitoba. The labour organization advocates for temporary foreign workers from the Philippines, the largest source country for foreign workers in Canada.

On Thursday, Employment Minister Jason Kenney announced a moratorium on the hiring of temporary foreign workers in the food-services sector.

The news comes after reports of McDonald's and Tim Hortons employees in B.C. and Alberta being displaced by temporary foreign workers, a violation of the federal program's rules.

The perception of foreigners taking away Canadians' jobs raised hackles across the country, including Manitoba, said Marcelino.

'It's a "them and us" attitude'

"They're taking away our homes and raising up the prices of homes," is one of the comments the Filipino-Canadian has since heard.

Vicki Sinclair said she's hearing echoes of the xenophobia she left behind in England more than a decade ago.

"It's a 'them and us' attitude," said Sinclair, who immigrated to Canada in 2003 and works with newcomers.

She pointed to an anti-immigration pamphlet targeting Sikhs that cited the temporary foreign worker taking jobs away from Canadians. The Immigration Watch Canada screed was distributed in Brampton, Ont., but that's too close for comfort, said Sinclair in Winnipeg.

Aside from First Nations people, Canada is a country of immigrants, she said. In the U.K., there's no sense of that, and there's more open to hostility toward foreigners, she said.

"It scares me," said Sinclair. "I don't want what happened there to happen here."

Meanwhile, the prospect of a moratorium on hiring new temporary foreign workers scares some Manitoba businesses and people abroad looking for work here to support their families.

"We're disappointed," said Scott Jocelyn, executive director of the Manitoba Restaurant and Food Services Association. "We're always concerned when there are things painted with one broad brush stroke."

Problems with temporary foreign workers are more of an issue in other provinces but employers across the country will pay the price, he said.

In places such as Thompson, temporary foreign workers are a necessary last resort to fill jobs in the service sector and keep businesses open, Jocelyn said.

"To stop a program like this, you would hope the federal government would have a look and say, 'Let's do a rethink. There's a need for this,' " said the eatery association spokesman.

"It's a drastic measure," said Chuck Davidson, president and chief executive officer of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce. "There should be measures taken for those taking advantage of the program," he said. "But to basically do a moratorium across the country, it's going to limit opportunities for a lot of businesses," said Davidson. "It isn't good."

A Filipina food service worker in southern Manitoba supporting her parents and extended family back home said the news isn't good. She feels bad for temporary foreign workers who will miss out on restaurant jobs as a result of the moratorium.

The university-educated woman earned $4 a day in the Philippines before going to work at a multinational corporation in another Asian country where she made $500 a month after paying rent.

Although the practice is illegal, she paid a recruiter $5,000 to connect her with a better-paying job in Manitoba last year. Here she makes $750 every two weeks and pays $300 a month for rent. She doesn't want to be identified or go after the recruiter to recoup her $5,000 because she doesn't want any trouble.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 26, 2014 A4

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Trouba talks about injury and potential for Jets

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Hay bales sit under a rainbow just west of Winnipeg Saturday, September 3, 2011.(John Woods/Winnipeg Free Press)
  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 090728 / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS White Pelicans belly up to the sushi bar Tuesday afternoon at Lockport. One of North America's largest birds is a common sight along the Red RIver and on Lake Winnipeg. Here the fight each other for fish near the base of Red RIver's control structure, giving human fisher's downstream a run for their money.

View More Gallery Photos


What do you think of the government's announcement that there will be no balanced provincial budget until 2018?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google