A federal investigation has launched into whether a B.C. McDonald’s is abusing the Temporary Foreign Worker program.
The government has suspended all pending foreign worker permits for three locations owned by franchisee Glen Bishop and has blacklisted his franchise from the program, pending the outcome of the investigation.
"The pattern is that the temporary foreign workers are getting more shifts and that the Canadians are getting less,” said employee Kalen Christ, a McDonald’s "team leader" who has worked at the Victoria location for four years told the CBC.
The government probe began after Christ told CBC’s Go Public show the fast food outlet is bringing in Filipino workers while cutting local staffers’ hours and turning away dozens of seemingly qualified Canadians seeking jobs. He said the restaurant had rejected up to 50 local applicants because it was expecting nine Filipino workers to arrive.
Federal regulations only allow employers to hire temporary foreign workers if there are no qualified Canadians available. Organizations used to be able to pay these workers lower wages, but that was changed.
Employment Minister Jason Kenney’s office said investigators now want to hear from any other affected employees or job applicants, from any McDonald’s outlets in Canada.
“If we hear cases like that … we will not tolerate it,” said Kenney. “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.”
A McDonald’s statement distanced the company from its franchisee, saying the organization was working to terminate its relationship with Bishop’s outlets. It also said foreign worker recruitment, hiring and staff scheduling are handled by the franchise.
" McDonald’s Canada will immediately undertake a comprehensive review of all corporate and franchise-operated restaurants, to ensure continued alignment with Service Canada requirements of the Temporary Foreign Worker program," spokesman John Gibson said.
The fast food chain has 3,400 temporary foreign workers in its stores countrywide, out of 85,000 full- and part-time workers.