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McDonald’s grilled over temporary foreign workers

A B.C. McDonald’s restaurant franchisee is under investigation after complaints about his foreign worker hiring policy, CBC news reports.

According to CBC, concerns from employees like team leader Kalen Christ, during the news agency’s Go Public inquiries, led to the initial investigation and subsequent blacklisting of franchisee Glen Bishop from the temporary foreign workers program.

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“The pattern is that the temporary foreign workers are getting more shifts and that the Canadians are getting less,” Christ, who works at one of the Victoria franchises, told CBC. “Many, many people have been complaining about it.”

McDonald’s confirmed the three Victoria restaurants have 26 temporary foreign workers on staff, despite Christ’s assertion that up to 50 locals had applied for work at his location in recent months, CBC reports.

Christ told CBC that when he questioned why foreign workers sometimes get paid up to 20 per cent more than Canadian-hired employees, McDonald’s explained that, not only do foreign workers work harder, they are brought in to be supervisors under a higher job classification.

Vancouver immigration lawyer of Maynard Kischer Stojicevic Immigration Law, Aleksandar Stojicevic, weighed in with his take on the McDonald’s forerign worker scandal.

Specializing in Canadian immigration law, Alex told CBC that foreign workers who get higher job classifications have more options for getting permanent residency in Canada. There is also less onerous advertising required of the employer. This is one of the main incentives employers can offer these workers for moving their life to a new country.

“From a Canadian perspective, though, you have to ask the employer why aren’t you paying the Canadians the same and\or cutting their hours?” Alex posited in the CBC report.

In a statement issued on April 6, federal employment minister Jason Kenney asserted his concern regarding the McDonald’s franchisee’s alleged abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

“Inspectors from my department did an on-site inspection at the location in Victoria and I suspended all Labour Market Opinions and work permits in process…[as] I have reasonable grounds to believe that this employer provided Employment and Social Development Canada with false, misleading or inaccurate information.” CBC quoted from Kenney’s statement.

The rules surrounding the Temporary Foreign Worker Program are in the midst of a major overhaul, making abuse of the program more difficult.

“If we hear cases like that … we will not tolerate it,” Kenney’s statement read. “They will be put on the blacklist. And as soon as the monetary fines are in place, we will be throwing the book at them.