The implication of lower wages for those workers is clear — but Canada’s message back could be that while we welcome investment, we don’t welcome labour practices that create a second class of citizen.

— Amanda Lang

The Chinese consul general in Calgary told the Globe and Mail that Chinese companies struggle to turn a profit on Canadian investments.

He said hiring Albertans “is so expensive” and that it “adds to the financial burden” of the Chinese companies operating in the oilsands. In the face of falling oil prices, pricier Canadian workers are only getting more burdensome for Chinese firms invested in Canadian resources. 

Amanda Lang ExchangeCanada’s message to Chinese investors should be that we are open to investment but we don’t welcome labour practices that create a second class of citizen, Amanda Lang says.

This is the latest controversy over Chinese foreign workers in Canada. In one high-profile case, two Canadian labour unions brought a court challenge against HD Mining over the use of Chinese workers in a B.C. coal mine. The unions claim the company turned away qualified Canadian job applicants in favour of cheaper, Chinese labour.

That case was dismissed by a federal court. But more recently, an executive from Chinese state-owned firm Sinopec warned Chinese investments in Canadian projects were at risk unless Canada loosened restrictions on temporary foreign workers.

The CBC’s Amanda Lang and Peter Armstrong discussed the issue on Monday night’s episode of The Exchange. Watch their conversation in the player above.