The Seafarers’ International Union of Canada has filed a lawsuit against the Canadian Border Services Agency over the granting of temporary work permits to foreign sailors on foreign ships delivering cargo between Canadian ports.
“The Government of Canada has allowed foreign workers to take 2,100 jobs from qualified Canadian maritime workers,” SIU president Jim Given said in announcing the suit filed in the federal court. “The government continues to misuse its authority to grant temporary work permits to foreign workers, while passing over Canadian sailors who are ready to work”.
The next step will be for the court to schedule a hearing on the matter.
Under the Coasting Trading Act, a shipper can apply for an exemption from the requirement to use a Canadian vessel if none is shown to be available. Then the foreign owner has to get work permits for its crew. The law says such permits are to be granted only when qualified Canadians are not available, Givens emphasised.
The SIU has asked the court to rule that the Border Services Agency, along with Employment and Social Development Canada and Citizenship and Immigration Canada, should follow the law.
The union said that, since 2013, about 4,000 temporary foreign work permits had been issued by the Canadian government for domestic shipping. It added that 25% of Canadian maritime workers were currently unemployed.
The CBSA was invited by IHS Maritime to comment on the lawsuit but has not yet responded.