MONTREAL: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reassured unionized workers in Quebec Thursday that a wave of asylum seekers and foreigners with temporary worker permits would not take jobs away from Canadians.
Speaking to the United Food and Commercial Workers in Montreal, Trudeau outlined proposed changes to immigration rules that would provide temporary foreign workers a path to permanent residency.
“We have put an end to the discriminatory rule that prevented people from working for more than four years in Canada,” he said in a speech.
“We want to create new ways of accessing permanent residence for people who are already working in Canada.”
Trudeau did not explicitly mention the more than 6,000 asylum seekers that jumped the border from the United States since July 1 and have asked for work permits while their refugee claims are assessed.
But he reassured the crowd that Canadian companies can only hire a foreign worker “when it is not possible to find a Canadian” to do the job.
The prime minister has faced growing criticism in the province of Quebec for not cracking down on asylum seekers who evade border checkpoints.
Most of the recent arrivals are Haitians who face expulsion from the United States when their temporary asylum permit — granted after the devastating 2010 earthquake — expires at the end of the year.
Quebec opposition leader Jean-Francois Lisee blamed Trudeau on Wednesday for the influx of asylum seekers, saying he gave them false hopes when he invited the world’s persecuted people to come to Canada in a January Twitter message.
Earlier in August Trudeau announced a task force to try to stop the irregular migration through backwoods and farmers’ fields.