Canada’s temporary workers
Edgar and the other Filipino
men who help Zoran run his Calgary business are among a growing numbers
of foreigners working in Canada with temporary visas.
December 2007 there were about 200,000 such guest workers in the country
--- their presence marking a major shift in Canadian immigration and
labour policy. According to a 2009 report from the Maytree Foundation --
in 2007 and 2008, for the first time in history, the number of
temporary residents entering Canada, as either workers or students,
exceeded the number of new permanent immigrants.
This trend is
particularly pronounced in Alberta. With one tenth of the total
Canadian population, the province has been the destination for one in
five foreign temporary workers. During the pre-recession boom years,
certain sectors of the provincial economy were plagued by acute labour
shortages, and guest workers helped fill this gap.
Foreign Worker Program was established by the federal government in 2002
to alleviate such labour shortages, but its rapid expansion has raised
concerns. Critics say that the program risks creating an under-protected
class of labourers, while failing to address the long-term needs of
In a report released in August, 2009, the
federal government’s Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration
addressed some of these concerns. Among its recommendations: a
suggestion that the government establish an official channel allowing
temporary workers to become permanent residents.
crisis has put temporary workers in a precarious position. Those who
lose their jobs do not have access to employment insurance --- and
getting hired elsewhere is contingent on the prospective employer
proving that the job cannot be done by a permanent resident. Meanwhile
in Alberta, the numbers of unemployed worker have been growing.Some facts & figures:
Sources : Temporary Foreign Workers and Non-Status Workers
- The number of temporary foreign workers entering Canada increased from 112,719 in 2004 to 193,061 in 2008.
- Temporary residents do not have access to the same supports and services as permanent Canadian residents.
September 2008 and September 2009, the employment rate among immigrants
who’ve been in Canada for five years or less dropped by 5.7% ---
compared to 1.6% for Canadian-born workers.
- Many Immigrants are
employed in those sectors most affected by the current recession.
Statscan data shows that manufacturing and retail contain the biggest
proportion of landed immigrants among their work forces.
from past recessions suggests that immigrants have more difficulty
re-entering the job market once the economy recovers.
, 2009 report from Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.
The Globe and Mail
, September 10, 2009Adjusting the Balance: Fixing Canada’s Economic Immigration Policies
, 2009 report from the Maytree Foundation.