BC Building Trades unions win key decisions on judicial review of Temporary Foreign Workers permits granted to HD Mining

A Federal Court judge ruled late Monday in favour of BC’s Building Trades unions on key evidence to be considered in a judicial review of Temporary Foreign Worker permits granted to HD Mining to bring 201 Chinese miners to BC, say the two unions who instigated the case.

Justice Russel Zinn rejected arguments from legal counsel for HD Mining and Canadian Dehua International to exclude evidence regarding the resumes of some Canadian workers who were turned down for jobs and information on wage rates for workers employed by nearby mines.

Zinn also reserved judgment until the end of the review on the admissibility of evidence from the BC Ministry of Energy and Mines that HD Mining is not using long wall mining techniques in developing a potential coal mine near Tumbler Ridge despite claims from the company that the lack of Canadian workers with those skills was the reason why Temporary Foreign Workers were needed.

“We are very pleased that Justice Zinn has decided to hear as much evidence about how these Temporary Foreign Worker permits were granted as possible,” said Brian Cochrane, Business Manager of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 115 – one of two unions granted the judicial review.

“The fact that HD Mining and Canadian Dehua International attempted to block introduction of key evidence about Canadian workers who were rejected for jobs and on comparable wage rates indicates to us again that the process to grant these work permits was fundamentally flawed,” Cochrane said.

Mark Olsen, Business Manager for the Construction and Specialized Workers Union [Labourers’ Union] Local 1611 – the other Building Trades union in the case, said Tuesday that the future of the entire Temporary Foreign Worker Program is increasingly in doubt as more is learned about its failures in this case and now the Royal Bank of Canada situation with the replacement of Canadian workers with foreign workers.

“We have said for years that Temporary Foreign Worker permits were being granted by the federal government without enough scrutiny beforehand and without enough enforcement of the rules afterwards,” Olsen said.  “Canadian workers deserve to hear the full truth about what is going on and then have it fixed.”

BC Building Trades Council President Lee Loftus says the Federal Court case could have a profound impact on the entire Program, affecting over 300,000 Temporary Foreign Workers currently employed in Canada, including 70,000 in BC.

“We simply do not believe that each and every job now held by Temporary Foreign Workers could not be filled by Canadians,” Loftus said.  “This case has already shone a bright light on hiring practices that are simply inappropriate and need to stop.”

The hearing resumed today at the Federal Court offices located at 701 West Georgia Street in Vancouver with legal counsel for the unions presenting their arguments.  The Honourable Justice Russel Zinn is presiding and the hearing is expected to continue through Friday. 


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