I think that at a time when we have an aging population in Canada, and when the positive impacts of immigration in a province like Manitoba are palpable—compared to provinces, including my own, that are not doing such a robust job—there's a real concern about what it would do to our international brand and capacity to attract immigrants. Effectively, with the stroke of a pen, tearing up 100,000 applications for 280,000 people.... I think you'd have to say that there's a legitimate concern about the impact on our capacity. That's on that issue.
But I have some questions on potential changes to the temporary foreign worker policy or program. My riding is a very strong horticultural riding, as it is for agriculture in general. Farmers—and in some cases, some very large-scale horticultural farmers—expressed to me that without temporary foreign workers their operations will be closed, and in fact, that any impediment to the hiring of temporary foreign workers will potentially endanger or imperil their operations.
Temporary foreign workers are a fact of life and a part of the global value chain in food production, so any impediment to the hiring of temporary foreign workers in Canada is going to provide our producers with a competitive disadvantage compared to, say, producers in California.
The government has been promoting this idea that a temporary foreign worker takes a job from a Canadian, but what I'm being told is that in fact it creates a job for a Canadian at a different level. So at the labour level in picking strawberries, there is a temporary foreign worker, but then there's a Canadian who is packing the strawberries or making the food, the pies, the confection, or whatever is after that.
I'd like to hear from you some reassurances to the farmers in my riding who are petrified about any changes to or limitations on their access to temporary foreign workers.