Temporary Foreign Workers – Two Editorials

Two editorials in the Globe and Mail make a case for bringing in more immigrants (future citizens) than temporary guest workers.

Foreign workers won’t be temporary if we make them permanent

By Doug Saunders, The Globe and Mail

We need migrant labour, but the current arrangement leaves everyone wanting. There’s no reason not to ease the path to citizenship

They are allowed into Canada to do jobs most Canadians would refuse at rates of pay most Canadians would never stand for, and then they have to leave. They are separated from their families for years. They aren’t allowed to settle, marry, bring their children over, expect a raise or change jobs. They have to live in rooms provided by their employers, and they cannot realistically quit without being forced out of the country.

Where are you most likely to encounter such temporary foreign workers? Not in a Fort McMurray tar pit or in the kitchen of a pizzeria in Weyburn, Sask., but far more likely in your neighbour’s spare bedroom – or perhaps even your own.

Our original temporary foreign worker program, launched in 1992, is the one that brings live-in nannies and caregivers into Canadians’ homes. It accounts for nearly a fifth of all “temporary” immigration.

We’d like to think of this variety of migrant labour – “Lucy, who takes care of the kids” – as somehow different. In fact, the similarities are striking, as are the deep and troubling flaws. The foreign-labour problem in our dormer rooms and kitchens tells us a lot about the foreign-labour problem in the workplace.

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Canada needs more immigrant future citizens, fewer guest workers

The Globe and Mail

The evidence is mounting that, whatever the Temporary Foreign Worker Program may be accomplishing, it is not the alleviation of temporary labour shortages, its ostensible purpose. There are no widespread labour shortages in Canada. But since the 21st century began, the number of workers in the program has nearly tripled to around half a million.

An employer that wants to hire foreign workers has to apply to the federal government for a “labour market opinion,” which is based partly on information from the employer. Allegations about McDonald’s franchisees in Victoria and Lethbridge, Alta., together with anecdotal evidence from other parts of Canada, suggest that some companies may actually prefer foreign workers because they believe them to be more willing to work longer and harder at tasks that attract little prestige, more deferential, and willing to work for less – though in some of the McDonald’s, they are actually paid slightly more than some of their Canadian co-workers.

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