Stories about the inequitable treatment of temporary foreign workers have typically emanated from B.C., Alberta or Ontario.
That's not to say that there haven't been issues in Saskatchewan. To expect that there hasn't been an employer treating a temporary foreign worker improperly, or giving a foreign worker preferential treatment, would be naive.
But for the first time, a documented, reported case of preferential treatment is hitting close to home.
Two waitresses from The Brothers Classic Grill and Pizza in Weyburn said they were let go recently because ownership favoured the employees imported from other countries. One of the employees had been with the restaurant for 28 years, and was looking forward to retiring with the company.
There are elements that ring familiar for southeast businesses, particularly those in the hospitality sector. A company that is having difficulty filling its staffing shortages shifts its attention overseas, and brings in workers from another country.
And while we don't have the full story of everything that has happened at The Brothers, if wrongdoing has occurred, then a correction is needed, and the restaurant owners should be held accountable.
Temporary foreign workers have, in many cases, provided a significant boost to businesses, and they have culturally enriched communities in the process. They have not only provided a solution to the employee crunch facing many companies, but most are tireless workers with a cheerful disposition who are willing to take jobs in sectors scoffed at by others in Canada.
Many businesses have been able to stay open because they have hired temporary foreign workers. These workers have boosted our population, they're thrilled to be in Canada, they don't take this wonderful country for granted, and one day, many of them will become permanent residents and Canadian citizens.
If an employer can find a qualified person in Canada who's willing to do the required job, then they should hire that Canadian. But if they can't find the right person, then temporary foreign workers represent the most credible solution.
Employers also have an obligation to treat foreign workers the same way they treat other employees. They can't show a foreign worker preferential treatment, regardless of how much time and money went into recruitment. Employers also can't treat workers in a shabby fashion just because the workers are from another country.
And the employees who are the best at their job should get the most hours and the highest wages, regardless of whether they're from Canada or from another country.
We need more workers from other countries in the southeast. They are one of the remedies to the job crunch facing this region; in the short-term, they represent the best solution.
But any double-standards that exist need to be eradicated, for the good of the people coming here from overseas, and for the good of the Canadian employees working at these jobs.