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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Pipelines and Temporary Foreign Workers

by Karen Wristen 

Canada wants more Pinoy skilled workers.
Photo: The Filipino Post
A blogger friend of mine put me on to an interesting story about temporary foreign workers that surprised me. It’s not that it’s a surprise that foreign pipeline workers are being recruited; it’s just that I thought they’d be coming from China, not the Philippines. And I didn’t know just how active a role Canadian institutions were playing in training and certifying them.

In July, 2012, school started in Cebu City, Philippines, with the Canadian Consul to the Philippines, Robert Lee, gracing the opening ceremony. It was the first Canadian Welding Bureau school to be set up outside of Canada, enrolling 120 students who would go on to be certified according to Canadian standards, eight months later. Consul Lee was reported to have said, “I want to make it my legacy sending world class Filipino welders to Canada before my retirement few years from now.”

By January, 2014, there were three centers accredited by the Canadian Welding Bureau operating in Cebu: Brilliant Metal Works, Zoie Training Center and Primary Structures Educational Foundation. “The welders that we are training in Canada right now are not sufficient to fill that vacuum that’s why the Canadian government is looking of hiring temporary workers from outside, and right now, the Philippines is a very favorable place to hire the welders,” said Bob Montes, according to an article reported in the Filipino Post.

The following notice was published April 28, 2014 by the Canadian Welding Bureau on the website of the UA (The United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada or "UA" as it is commonly known is a multi-craft union whose members are engaged in the fabrication, installation and servicing of piping systems.)

"There have recently been publicized reports that the Canadian Welding Bureau (CWB) is recruiting Filipino welders to fill welding jobs here in Canada, and in particular, to fill vacancies in the BC shipbuilding industry. These statements are incorrect. For the record, the CWB is not in the business of recruiting welders, either from the Philippines or elsewhere, or involved in any job placement schemes, contracts or agreements to enter Canada."

A search of the CWB website today reveals that it operates test centres in China, Vietnam, Egypt, Suriname, Philippines and the USA--as well as in Canada. There is no indication on its website that it is actively involved in recruiting workers; its business is training and certifying them to Canadian standards.

With all the pipeline building going on in the world today, it has been apparent for some time that there is a shortage of the types of skilled trades required. Clearly, that shortage is going to be filled by foreign workers, rather than by an intensive recruitment of Canadian trainees. This fact calls into question yet again the benefits claimed by pipeline proponents for Canada as a whole.

A portion of the benefits case for the Northern Gateway Pipeline was based on the tax revenues Canada would gain from direct employment, plus the employment created when those employees spend their money--known as induced and indirect employment. With temporary foreign workers in the mix, what proportion of the labour force will be resident—and paying taxes—outside Canada? Does the induced and indirect job creation calculation differ for workers whose home and assets are located elsewhere? Do temporary workers spend their money in Canada at the same rate and for the same goods and services as resident workers? The case for income tax revenues begins to look pretty soft.

1 comment:

  1. My husband works in the OilSands as a rig welder and dozens of guys were “laid-off” and as they walked out of the large lay-off meeting, the TFW’s were waiting for their orientations to take over their jobs. This was all over the news.

    The Canadians Against the Temporary Foreign Workers Program group started in the OilSands. In less than a week of starting a Facegroup group they had 12,000 members and are up around 25,000 members now. These folks are the workforce for the OilSands, the grunts and they are PISSED! e This is simply about Canadians losing their jobs to TFW’s who are getting paid less.

    The powers that be launched the Canadian welding certification program in the Phillipines some time ago and have launched similar programs in other countries as well. Minister Neufeld has trumpeted this as a “great step” in getting LNG up and running.

    Some people talk about the environmental concerns but companies keep talking about how they can do it with minimal impact. Canadians will unite around losing their jobs to foreigners, our resources being owned by foreigners, decisions about the future of our resources being done by foreigners and the profit from the sale of OUR resources going to foreigners. 71% of the TarSands being owned by foreign (and state-owned) companies should be enough to make any right-wing Conservative furious.

    I know it made me furious, I voted Conservative and now I'm anything but.