Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Foreign-worker ban hard hit for Virden Tim's

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BRANDON -- The federal government's decision to ban restaurants from participating in its temporary foreign worker program is giving some owners indigestion.

Employment Minister Jason Kenney issued the surprise moratorium Thursday, hours after the C.D. Howe Institute released a damning study into the program that concluded it had spurred joblessness in B.C. and Alberta.

The Tim Hortons location in Virden has been using the program to compensate for a shallow labour pool siphoned by western Manitoba's oil industry for more than a year.

Franchisee Greg Crisanti, who voiced concern about the program stoppage, did not want to comment further when contacted by the Brandon Sun. But in a Twitter post Friday, Crisanti said "Jason Kenny (sic) has just ruined my weekend!"

The restaurant employs more than 10 temporary foreign workers from Jamaica, Mexico and the Philippines.

In Brandon, the restaurant-specific halt on the program won't have significant consequences, but Sandy Trudel, the city's director of economic development, said she's nonetheless concerned a few cases of misuse have led to the program being shut down.

"It always is cause for concern when one or two instances of suspected abuse cause a knee-jerk response," she said, "So obviously I don't like to see programs shut down in that kind of mode, because every area of the country has very different and unique labour needs.

"I don't think it will be a significant detriment on our folks here in the city."

The smackdown to Canadian restaurants came despite Kenney's insistence in recent weeks only a small number of companies were abusing the program and his repeated vows to deal with those companies harshly.

The government will not process any new or pending applications for temporary foreign workers from restaurant operators, and any unfilled positions tied to previous approval will be suspended.

-- Brandon Sun

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 28, 2014 A5

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