Government of Canada and Seafarers’ International Union of Canada settle lawsuits regarding CTMA use of Temporary Foreign Workers

December 17, 2019

For Immediate Release

December 17, 2019 – MONTREAL, QC – The Seafarers’ International Union of Canada (SIU) and Government of Canada have reached a settlement of lawsuits filed by SIU over the decision to allow Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) to work on Canadian-flagged vessels operated by the Coopérative de transport maritime et aérien (CTMA).

The settlement will see Employment and Social Development Canada’s (“ESDC”) Special Measures Policy for the Maritime Sector applied to applications for TFWs on Canadian flagged vessels.  (The Policy previously only applied to foreign-flagged vessels.)  As a result, all employers seeking to use TFWs on Canadian-flagged vessels will be required to seek a letter of concurrence from the SIU stating that there are no qualified or available Canadians to serve as crew prior to approval being granted to use TFWs.

The CTMA operates a fleet of ships that transport persons and goods between the Magdalen Islands and other parts of Québec and Canada. The SIU is the certified bargaining agent for all unlicensed employees employed on vessels operated by the CTMA. During the summer of 2019, the CTMA, without consulting the SIU, and in breach of the SIU-CTMA collective agreement, obtained work permits through the TFWP to allow seven foreign nationals to work on its vessels for 169 days. These foreign nationals commenced work in September 2019, shortly before the CTMA laid off large numbers of Canadian seafarers due to the close of the summer cruise season.

This settlement parallel’s the settlement with the Government of Canada in 2017 regarding the Government of Canada’s issuance of work permits to allow TFWs to work on foreign vessels while engaging in cabotage in Canadian waters. In that matter, the Government of Canada agreed to work with the SIU and other stakeholders to develop and implement the Special Measures Policy for the Maritime Sector. The Policy requires foreign vessel operators to obtain a letter of concurrence from the SIU, stating that there are or are not qualified Canadian seafarers who are available to work on the foreign vessel in question, before TWFs will be permitted to crew the vessel. The Policy will now be extended to Canadian-flagged vessels as well; however, there will be no exemption to recruitment and advertising for TFW applications for workers on Canadian flagged vessels, regardless of the duration that they are to work in Canada.

SIU President James Given said, “This is a victory for all Canadian seafarers. This settlement will protect the jobs of all Canadian seafarers, in the Magdalen Islands and throughout Canada.”

About the SIU of Canada: The Seafarers’ International Union of Canada (SIU) is affiliated with the Seafarers’ International Union of North America serving unlicensed sailors since 1938. The most important sailors’ union in Canada, the SIU represents the majority of unlicensed sailors working aboard vessels on the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence River, on the East and West Coasts.


SOURCE: Seafarers’ International Union of Canada

Related Links:


Media Contact:

Communications Department

(613) 739-8834