This annual Report was compiled [by UFCW Canada] to educate about the draconian federal Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP) and the genuine human cost that continues to scar Canada’s reputation internationally. More importantly, the TFWP continues to be a dark, painful and dreary road wrought with abuse, exploitation and utter lack of oversite for tens of thousands of people annually entering Canada. As shocking as it may be for those who deny this reality, primarily governments and employers, parallels have been drawn to the slave trade and indentured servitude of a colonial era many thought had past. Moreover, the number of people in Canada who are unaware of the sometimes sub-human conditions that many migrants are subjected to once in Canada is shocking.
The use of employment recruiters by employers continues to be a significant issue for many migrant workers. Unscrupulous recruiters continue to charge migrant workers exorbitant and sometimes illegal placement and processing fees. The exact purpose for fees charged is often difficult to ascertain, particularly as certain fees are permitted while others are not.
The reality is grave. Recruiters often charge thousands of dollars to migrant workers back home which sometimes amounts to several generations of savings. As expected, several thousand dollars are typically not available to migrant workers.
A horrifying reality faced by some migrant workers is their reliance on organized crime in the sending country. As many migrant workers are economically marginalized people from developing countries, they have a complete inability to pay the thousands of dollars demanded by recruiters. Some turn to organized crime as a source to pay the recruiters. This results in illegal rates of interest and a principal amounts that can never be re-paid. The further consequence is indenturing the migrant workers’ families to the organized crime syndicate or worse if payments are not made in full and on a timely manner.
The migrant worker in Canada has therefore no ability to resist illegal or harsh treatment he may receive from his/her employer. A termination in Canada for a migrant worker has meant death or the threat of death to family members back home at the hands of organized crime.