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Foreign worker program needs fixes: BC jobs minister

B.C. Jobs Minister Pat Bell is admitting there are big problems with the temporary foreign worker program that's behind a controversy over a northern B.C. mine.

HD Mining is facing a legal challenge from two unions after using the program to bring in Chinese miners for a project near Tumbler Ridge, and Bell says it's now clear the company didn't do a good enough job of looking for qualified Canadian miners.

He says people are angry about the situation and the temporary foreign worker program needs to be fixed, but he also says that's up to the federal government.

NDP critic Shane Simpson says Bell's comments are a complete turn-around for the Liberal government because the Liberals had defended HD Mining until it became obvious the company was in the wrong.

B.C. Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair also calls Bell's comments a reversal, saying the government has admitted it agrees with the unions that the foreign worker program failed and B.C. workers should have been given jobs at the mine.

But Bell insists his comments aren't new because he's been saying for weeks that confidence has been lost in the temporary foreign worker program and it's appropriate for the federal government to be reviewing it.

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