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RBC outsourcing controversy spreads on social media

You can always count on social media for a fast and furious response. Media reports saying Royal Bank of Canada outsourced foreign workers to replace current employees has set off some buzz on Facebook and Twitter.

A Facebook page called "Boycott Royal Bank of Canada" features a picture of child crying with the tagline: “Your child’s future outsourced. Lost Canadian jobs you can bank on.” The page has some 2,700 likes. Twitter also drew a flurry of comments with customers threatening to change services and banks.

In response to a CBC report on the heated issue, Ottawa said it is looking into whether about 50 of Royal Bank’s employees in Toronto are losing their investor services back-office jobs so that the work can be done by an outsourcing company, iGate Corp.

Diane Finley, minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, said in a statement on the weekend if the situation is true it is "unacceptable," adding "with regards to this particular matter, I have instructed my department to work with Citizenship and Immigration Canada to determine the next steps."

Canada's largest bank scrambled on Sunday to explain its side, stating it had not directly hired temporary foreign workers to take over the work of its current employees.

"RBC agreements with suppliers, including in this case iGATE, requires them to ensure that they are abiding by the applicable laws and regulations," Greg Grice, head of the bank's enterprise services and chief procurement officer, said in a statement.

"External suppliers allow us to leverage their scale and technical skills to continually improve our operational processes and service, and re-invest in initiatives that enhance the client experience."

Zabeen Hirji, chief human resources officer at RBC said: "We recognize the impact of this situation on our employees and we continue to remain focused on assisting our employees through this transition. We are working diligently to find suitable roles for those affected and it is our hope over the next few months to transition them to other positions."

The issue has exploded on the heels of a dismal report on the country's labour market. Late last week, data showed Canada shed 54,500 jobs in March and the unemployment rate ticked higher.