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No path to permanent residency in Harper government's new Temporary Foreign Worker policy

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The Conservative government is maintaining the much-abused Temporary Foreign Worker Program, but putting some new controls and limits on it.

Employment Minister Jason Kenney and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced the new policy Friday, after Parliament had risen for its summer recess.

It is a partial about-face from Harper government policy since 2006, which was to, in effect, allow the expansion of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, based on the notion that there are significant labour shortages in some parts of Canada.

The new regulations specifically target the fast food and other "nontradable services" sector.

Businesses in this sector should not be using temporary foreign workers as a key piece of "their business model," Kenney said at a news conference in Ottawa on Friday afternoon.

Those businesses will have to limit their quota of temporary foreign workers to 10 per cent of their total workforce -- but they will be given a few years to achieve that.

Right now, some of those fast food and similar businesses are staffed close to 100 per cent by temporary foreign workers.

The Harper government is also emphasizing that it has what amounts to a two-tiered approach to the overall Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

There are very different rules for the high-skilled temporary folks who come mostly from developed countries, on the one hand, and the low-paid folks who come from developing countries, on the other.

Kenney said that notwithstanding the demands of labour and the opposition parties the Conservatives are not interested in opening a path to permanent residency for those low-paid folks from developing countries.

Those supposedly "low-skilled" migrant workers know the rules, Kenney argued.

They should clearly understand that Canada only wants their cheap labour -- even if, in response to political, labour and media pressure, Kenney now claims we want less of that labour. We still do not want not them, as people; and we definitely do not want their families.

Both Kenney and Alexander emphasized that the kind of immigrants the Conservatives do want -- as opposed to workers who constitute an in-time cheap labour force for some Canadian businesses -- are those with marketable and in-demand skills and training; or, those with money.

Or, better yet: those with both.

rabble.ca will have more details on this story shortly. See David Climenhaga's excellent report on this issue, now posted on rabble.

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