What is a lobbyist?
It is the process individuals and groups persuade their interests and press them upon governmental decision makers. This is done to influence the determination of public policy
Main issue: Foreign Workers Program
- Money (wages, fees, etc.)
- Working and living conditions
- Living away from families
- Cannot settle or marry
- Cannot realistically quit without being forced out of the country
- Foreign Workers are unable to fully establish themselves in the field that they are educated in.
- “Even with the changes, the study found that because the domestics are beholden to their employers for years – as all temporary immigrants are – their status tends to “impede their economic and social integration” and prevent them from establishing themselves fully in their field. (The majority of nannies, as with other “temporaries,” tend to have university degrees, and often pay fortunes to agents to get their placements.)” - The Globe and Mail http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/the-workers-wont-be-temporary-if-we-make-them-permanent/article18200187/
- Tim Hortons (Timothy Powers)
- McDonald's (Robin Speer)
Unity Party: Hi, welcome! How are you guys doing today?
Speer: Hello, I’m doing great
Powers: Hello, I’m doing fine as well
Unity Party: Anyways, let’s get down to business. As we should all be aware, we are meeting today to discuss the controversy regarding the Foreign Workers Program. We understand that you are lobbyists representing McDonalds and Tim Hortons. Can you tell us about the current issues surrounding this topic?
Speer: Well, I was hired on to represent Tim Hortons in late November. On behalf of Tim Hortons, I would like to address the issue of living conditions for the temporary foreign workers. They are provided with a reasonable living space and despite debate, they are not living or working in harmful conditions that could impact them negatively.
Powers: Last year, the government responded to the criticism that was received on the issue that temporary foreign workers had a wage 15% less than average Canadian wages. Today, employers who would like to use the program would need to pay a fee of $275 and they now have minimum wage that’s the same as all other Canadians.
Unity Party: We would like to start with the current issues of the living conditions of the temporary foreign workers. Although they may be provided with reasonable living spaces from both companies, workers should be able to choose their living spaces that best fits their needs, just as every other Canadian would be able to do so. Also we would like to give citizens and residents the best opportunities and quality of life we can provide. This would include being able to bring their families over for the time being and live in a residence of their choosing. Further more, many people should be able to express their feelings towards the other person, this may even include marriage. What do you think about this?
Speers: I understand that giving the best quality of life for all citizens and residents would be in Canada’s best interests, but if we are providing the foreign workers with the housing, we should be able to place limits. The housing of the foreign workers may put our company, and local workers in unsuitable conditions. Many of those who become a part of this program cannot afford to buy their own housing as well. It may be bad living conditions for some but I assure you that there are Canadian citizens who endure much worse living conditions.
Powers: On top of that, the payment our companies need to provide for house. We have put in place a $275 fee just to have the ability to use the program. It would be best for our companies to have a preset housing space, and have our foreign workers settle in the prearranged spacing. At the very least they are given a home, and a job in great working conditions. This would make the transitions between the two countries more efficient. Who knows, they might want to immigrate to Canada so they can buy their own home without anyone telling them what to do.
Unity Party: It may be that they choose unrealistic living spaces, but that can easily be solved through budgets, and guidelines. However if they are placed in a specific housing that makes them uncomfortable or does not fit their needs, it can affect their personal interests, and working habits. It may be in the best interest to provide guidelines or different options of housing. If you were to provide different housing options, it would have both the consideration of the workers and the work you are putting into providing them with housing.
Powers: Providing different housing options may allow for both of those views, but it isn’t much of an option. Often times we have multiple smaller houses with up to 5 people sharing the space. If foreign workers are also allowed to have their families living with them, each worker would require one house each rather than sharing housing. It’s just more cost efficient to have it that way.
Unity Party: Taken into consideration a few foreign workers would share a space, there could still be a few different housing layouts, depending on the number of workers. Especially because you mentioned the fact you have had multiple houses with a few people living in them. There may not be too many options, there should be different types of layouts for each housing provided.
Speers: Currently, the government is charging a fee of $275 for companies that are taking part of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program. In addition to this, we will also have to pay for housing. The fee that we are paying should be eliminated, as we are providing foreigners a place to work and decent working conditions. Although we are paying to fill the gap in labor shortages, it should be significantly less for us to provide for the workers and provide our service.
Unity Party: We understand your perspective on this topic, but we have unfortunately run out of time. We will be discussing more solutions to this ongoing issue at our next upcoming meeting.
Speers: Thank you
Powers: Thank you for inviting us. I appreciate the opportunity to come talk to you guys