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Kenney defends temporary workers hired in Windsor, Ont., as highly skilled

OTTAWA - Government data shows most temporary foreign workers hired in the manufacturing sector over the past three years in Windsor, Ont., were brought on as industrial instrument technicians and mechanics.

At least one expert says he can't believe qualified labourers were in short supply in Windsor, a hotbed of unemployment that was hit hard by the global recession.

Employment Minister Jason Kenney, who says the need in Windsor was legitimate, tabled the data in the House of Commons today amid more heated questions about the temporary foreign worker program.

Other data compiled by Kenney's department shows that a slew of companies and government departments, federal and provincial, have hired foreign help in recent years.

Some temporary foreign workers have been hired in areas struggling with joblessness, including the Maritimes and southwestern Ontario, and in sectors where there is no apparent lack of domestic candidates.

Mike Moffatt, a business and public policy professor at Western University in London, Ont., says it's hard to believe no local workers were qualified for those jobs.

Kenney told the House on Wednesday that some businesses in Windsor appeared to have a legitimate need for temporary foreign workers.

Industrial instrument technicians and mechanics repair and maintain equipment for employers that include pulp-and-paper plants, nuclear and hydro power generating stations, mining, petrochemical and natural gas companies.

Follow Lee-Anne Goodman on Twitter at @leeanne25

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