Seafarers’ International Union of Canada Files Seven Lawsuits Against the Government of Canada

November 13, 2019


The SIU has filed lawsuits challenging the decision of the Government of Canada to issue work permits to seven foreign seafarers.


OTTAWA, ON – November 7, 2019 –The Seafarers’ International Union of Canada (SIU) has filed seven applications for judicial review with the Federal Court on November 6, 2019, which challenges the decision of the federal government to issue work permits to seven foreign nationals to work on vessels operated by the Coopérative de Transport Maritime et Aérien (CTMA). The CTMA is currently employing seven foreign seafarers on board their vessels.

According to the federal government, “the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) was created as a last and limited resort to allow employers to bring foreign workers to Canada on a temporary basis to fill jobs for which qualified Canadians are not available.” Under the TFWP, work permits may only be issued for foreign workers if qualified Canadian citizens or permanent residents are not available to perform the work. The lawsuit filed by the SIU alleges that the work permits in this case were issued in contravention of the TFWP.

The CTMA operates a fleet of ships that transport persons and goods between the Magdalen Islands and other parts of Québec and Canada, including ferries that transport hundreds of people. The CTMA fleet includes the Madeleine, the Vacancier, the Voyageur, and the Clipper Ranger. The SIU is the certified bargaining agent for all unlicensed employees employed on vessels operated by the CTMA.

The collective agreements between the SIU and the CTMA states that the CTMA may recruit personnel from the Magdalen Islands, an area with an average 13% unemployment rate, but if they are unable to do so, they must contact the SIU, and the SIU will supply personnel to operate the vessels. The CTMA failed to contact the SIU to supply personnel, which is in direct violation of the collective agreements, and made the decision to fill open positions on board CTMA vessels with temporary foreign workers at a time when Canadians were available for work.

The SIU of Canada has worked closely with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) officials to ensure that the Maritime Policy for Temporary Foreign Workers is transparent and effective. The ongoing issue with the CTMA needs a full investigation and CTMA, along wth local politicians, need to explain what they told ESDC officials in order to obtain these work permits. It is the opinion of the SIU that there was no labour shortage at the time these foreign workers were hired. President of the SIU James Given stated, “this is a serious situation for workers across Canada. If a company manipulated the integrity of the TFW Program, it needs to be exposed. We know ESDC works very hard to ensure this program works in favour of Canadians, and if decisions were made on partial, or inaccurate information, someone has to answer for that.”

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 SIU has been representing seafarers working board vessels on the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River, East Coast, and West Coast since 1954. SIU members have acquired the reputation of being amongst the best-trained and most qualified sailors in the world. The SIU represents thousands of qualified Canadian seafarers across Canada.



SOURCE: Seafarers’ International Union of Canada

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