Working conditions for workers in the Temporary Foreign Workers Program
“The Canadian temporary foreign workers program (TFWP) is a program operated by the Canadian federal government and it gives employers access to hiring foreign nationals on a
temporary basis to fill gaps in their workforce”. The Canadian encyclopedia.
This program was established in 1973 and at that time it was mostly highly skilled workers that were brought into Canada eg. (doctors). A low skilled worker category was introduced in 2002 and this category to date makes up about 80% of the temporary foreign workforce. The program was expanded and fast tracked in 2006 and revised in 2013 to change employers fee and raise wages, this saw an increase in the temporary foreign worker’s program from 330,000 in 2004 to over 567,000 migrant workers by 2014, the seasonal agricultural workers program (SAWP) is 12% of that total. The live-in care giver program (LCP) a component of the temporary foreign worker’s program was introduced in 1966 to bring caregivers mostly from the Philippines and Jamaica into individual’s home to provide childcare or home support for seniors or people with disability. This program was unique and incredibly popular because it offered a direct path to permanent residency after two years of work for some temporary foreign workers, while on the other hand the seasonal agricultural workers program did not. Unfortunately, as of November 2014 the immigration, refugees and citizenship Canada (IRCC) stopped issuing new live in care giver program work permits.
The workers in the temporary foreign worker’s program face many issues coming and working in Canada, these workers are forced into low quality jobs without income security. Many of these workers have been placed in vulnerable, unsustainable and health threating environments, inadequate housing conditions, poor access to health care, inability to collective barging, illegal recruitment fees and there have been reported cases of violence and sexual abuse. Many of the workers especially those in the agricultural program are tied to their employers and cannot say no to tasks even when their health is at risk. If migrant workers become ill or injured on the job many workers are given a one-way ticket home instead of getting access to health care in Canada. Most workers in the seasonal agricultural program are housed in barracks like rooms with narrow passageways which house 25-30 persons with makeshift beds. There have even been cases where workers have reported that they are sleeping beside massive broilers. Bathrooms showers and kitchen are in separate building some 15m away, laundry is done mostly by hand and to make a phone call to friend and family back home or go to the store workers have to walk 1.5km or further into town to do so.” Employers pay between $7.50-$8 an hour with no overtime and the Canadian government skimming off about a third of foreign workers pay in taxes and other contributions, even though some immigrant workers still make more than they would doing the same job at home”. Canadian labour congress
Many Canadians believe that immigrant foreign workers contribute to Canadas economic crises, and high unemployment rate but the government and cooperate influences is to be blamed for unemployment. “There is 1.5 million unemployed persons in Canada while there is a less than 400,000 foreign workers in low-wage jobs. So even if the government were to get rid of foreign workers there would still be a 1.1 million unemployed Canadians”. Statista. Canadians need to start holding the government accountable and work together to demand dignified jobs that protects Canadians alongside foreign workers. The government need to take into consideration that foreign workers pay thousands of dollars in fees to work in precarious jobs where many are racialized and abuse, foreign workers deserve equal protection in their workplace. Current legislation stops foreign workers from defending themselves and makes it difficult for them to assert their rights. “A study conducted by the conference board of Canada projected a shortage in unskilled jobs in 2025 by 113,800”. The Canadian encyclopedia. The government need to implement new regulations to counter the effect of this by establishing new regulations for the temporary foreign worker’s program that forces employers to demonstrate that have increase wage and working conditions for Canadian before they can seek to employ temporary foreign workers, if they don’t then the program will continue to see workers who occupy less desirable jobs and contribute to wage inequality in Canada.
Thompson, M. (2016, November 16). Canada needs a better foreign workers program: The Post Papers (Asian Pacific Post/South Asian Post/The Filipino Post), p13. Retrieved from George Brown College Library database.
Statista.es. (2018). Statista. Retrieved September 30 2018, from http://www.statista.com
Canada labour congress. (2015). Canada labour congress. Retrieved September 30 2018, from http://www.canadianlabour.ca
In text quote: (Canada labour congress, 2015)
Historica Canada. (2018). The Canadian encyclopedia. Retrieved September 30 2118 from
In text quote: (The Canadian encyclopedia, 2018)
Siddique, Y. (2001). Key changes to Canada's Foreign Worker Program. Canadian Mining Journal. 10