Immigration Minister puts brakes on popular skilled labour programs until 2013
Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press June 28, 2012
Ottawa brings down curtain on foreign strippers
Bill Curry, The Globe and Mail July 4, 2012
The freeze on skilled worker migrants follows the government’s decision to purge the waiting list for skilled workers in its ‘omnibus’ budget announcement earlier this year. The freeze was effective July 1, 2012. Happy Canada Day, hopeful future Canadian citizens.
To offset the news, the government also announced a change to the temporary foreign worker program (TFWP), which has increasingly been receiving criticism for exploiting foreign workers while undercutting general labour wages for all Canadians. Little mention is made of the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP).
Table 1 shows that Canada admitted only 36,770 skilled workers in 2011, lower than any of the previously listed years. That number will be zero for the coming year. The investor class on the other hand increased by 50%, although that was in large part due to abuse by one province.
Table 3 shows that Canada admitted a staggering 190,769 temporary foreign workers in 2011 alone, more than 5 times the number of skilled workers that year. That number is the highest of the previously listed years. The number of temporary foreign workers exceeds the number of all economic immigrants admitted in 2011 (156,077) and is not to far off the total number of immigrants admitted the same year (248,660). And a little fact that may be overlooked is that seasonal agricultural workers (SAW) are not included in the figures for temporary foreign workers (TFW), since the TFW count is taken on December 1st of each year – SAW are sent home after their agricultural season contracts expire.
The numbers speak clearly to a policy focus of replacing landed immigrants with temporary foreign workers. While the government’s stand on exploitation of foreign workers in the sex trade is notable, it belies the fact that the TFWP (and SAWP) in and of itself is exploitative. TFW by law can be paid 15% less than the prevailing Canadian wage in a given occupation, while the going wage for a SAW is $8/hr, 20% less than the prevailing minimum wage in the provinces where they mostly work (B.C. and Ontario). As secure, well-paying manufacturing jobs are increasingly more difficult to find, Canadian workers turning to general labour or retail jobs to make ends meet will find that these programs have undercut the wages they would earn.
While Canadian workers labour rights are being undercut by back-to-work legislation, TFW have no rights at all. It begs the question as to how TFW would seek recourse if they were paid less than the sub-standard wage they were entitled to receive. It would appear that the only consequence an exploitative employer would face (assuming an exploited TFW is willing to risk job loss and deportation to file a report) is a finger wag:
So how many negative LMO are filed?
In 2011 there were 151,520 positive LMO filed for the 300,111 TFW in Canada. Interestingly, no tables reference negative LMO.