·  Media release

B.C. Deal with China - Another Temporary Foreign Worker Debacle?

BURNABY, B.C. - Federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney should nix the B.C. Liberal government's plan to use temporary foreign workers to develop the province's liquefied natural gas industry, says the United Steelworkers (USW).

In signing a memorandum of understanding with the People's Republic of China, B.C. Premier Christy Clark appears set to repeat the mistakes from the HD Mining debacle of hiring temporary foreign workers (TFWs) instead of British Columbians, the USW says.

Clark's deal pledges that B.C. and China will "work together with the appropriate authorities to secure and facilitate the entry of foreign workers" to develop B.C.'s liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry.

"History is repeating itself," says Stephen Hunt, the USW's Western Canadian Director.

"In the HD Mining case in Tumbler Ridge, the company claimed it couldn't find any qualified Canadians and hired miners from China," Hunt says. "In fact, hundreds of Canadians had applied for positions, including many with several years of mining experience."

It took a Freedom of Information request by the USW to reveal the level of collusion between the B.C. and Chinese governments in the use of TFWs at HD Mining, Hunt notes.

"The LNG agreement is a case of déjà vu," he says. "Once again, the provincial government is more interested in providing cheap labour to big business than promoting job opportunities for British Columbians and other Canadians.

"When is the BC Jobs Plan going to be about jobs for British Columbians?"

USW National Director Ken Neumann says the province is failing to provide training opportunities for Canadians who are looking for work.

"The development of LNG should be linked with training opportunities for Canadians who need jobs, for young people and First Nations," Neumann says.

In B.C.'s North Coast/Nechako region, the unemployment rate is 9.7%, higher than the provincial average, he points out.

"Our union, like most British Columbians, supports the responsible development of our natural resources. But to achieve social licence it must be linked with job opportunities for our people. The B.C. Liberal government is shamefully ignoring this responsibility," says Neumann.

Hunt noted that the B.C. Liberals want to increase the number of TFWs in the province, but when it comes to defending the rights of exploited TFWs the government is nowhere to be found and claims it has nothing to do with the program.

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For further information:

Stephen Hunt, USW District 3 Director, 604-816-2554
Ken Neumann, USW National Director, 416-544-5951
Brad West, USW Communications, 604-683-1117, 604-754-1174, bwest@usw.ca

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