Two of every three temporary foreign workers in Canada in 2013 came with permits that did not require the employers to prove there was a need for labour from outside the country. The number of workers entering this way has nearly doubled in the last five years, according to the latest numbers released by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
One of the moves announced by the government on June 20 split the old TFW program into two parts. The temporary foreign workers whose entry required a Labour Market Impact Assessment* (LMIA) remained under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program 1 Temporary foreign workers whose entry did not require an LMIA were moved into the new International Mobility Programs (IMP)1.
Since the IMP does not require an LMIA, employers are not officially required to prove that they were unable to find suitable Canadian talent.
Of the 386,000 temporary foreign workers present in Canada on Dec.1 2013, 260,000 or 67% entered under the unregulated IMPs 2 3 This is an increase of 88% from the 138,000 present on the same day in 2009. 2
127,000 of the temporary foreign workers present had entered through the LMIA-requiring ‘new’ Temporary Foreign Worker Program, an increase from 2011 and ’12, but still down 10.6% from 2009 (uses figures rounded to nearest thousand). 3
“This isn’t even pretending to be good policy. In response to massive outcry over an abuse and scandal plagued program, their response is to open the floodgates and not even check who is coming in or why,” NTFW.CA advisor and journeyman electrician Michael Thomas said. “If the goal is to simply make this so ridiculous that the public doesn’t even believe it could be true then they’re on the right track.”
Employment Minister Jason Kenney and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced a series of measures to overhaul the scandal-plagued Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), including carving out IMP to be a separate program coming under Minister Alexander’s purview.
“There was a time when government had to be accountable enough that when they helped their corporate backers get to the feeding trough it was in a limited way and usually disguised as a somewhat helpful public program,” Thomas added. “What this appears to be is a feeding frenzy, as though they realize they won’t be held accountable no matter what they do. The hurt this will cause – particularly to skilled workers who support the entire Canadian economy at present – is incalculable.
“This policy is pure ideology,” Thomas pointed out. “They believe less regulation is good, so deregulate everything and never mind the consequences.”
The reforms themselves, however, have done little to quell public anger towards the program. This became more pronounced when it emerged that the changes not only made it easier for businesses to obtain TFWs for higher-skilled jobs, but also did nothing to limit the hiring of foreign workers under the IMP.
“We need a government who may be guided by their ideology but who governs by accountable measurable criteria and sound reason,” Thomas concluded. “Faith in a concept is no guarantee that it will work out, and it might be time for an election to make that abundantly clear to the current regime.”
*(formerly called Labour Market Opinion)
Photo Credit: Evan Leeson