BC temporary foreign workers

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Introduction

BC migrant farm workers

Originally temporary foreign workers moved to Canada to fill the labour shortage with workers who require low levels of education and training. As the volume of temporary workers increased in Canada, the permanent residency status also increased. Policymakers use the program as a regulatory device to lower labour standards and wage levels. There are a number of programs that foreign workers can apply for such as the general Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP), or some common streams: Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) and the Live-in Caregiver Program. Workers face the challenges of living and working in a new environment and country where they may find it difficult to assimilate to the Canadian lifestyle and culture. Some of the main challenges that BC's temporary workers face include inaccurate information prior to departure, illegal recruitment fees, work permits and job mobility restrictions, integration and discrimination and family separation.

History

In 1973, the Temporary Foreign Workers Program brought in skilled workers because they were specialists in their field such as doctors and farmers. Today, many workers from developing countries come to Canada to earn money and send it back home to their families.

Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP)

Originally this program was implemented to meet labour shortages within our domestic community, however it could also be seen to fill the labour shortage with workers who require low levels of education and training[1]. Canada’s permanent residency program encouraged newcomers with a high level of education and language proficiency on the likelihood that they will adapt to Canada’s lifestyle smoothly[2]. There has been increase in labour migration of lower skilled worker and the TFWP has no set limit on the number of workers that are hired and enter the country each year.

Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP)

There are a lack of Canadian farm workers because the low wage and hard laborious work is unappealing to many. Every year 30,000 agricultural workers come to Canada[3] with the majority of migrant farm workers coming from Mexico and Jamaica. Mexico's SAWP entries rose from 203 to 15 809 in 2010.[4] SAWP works in a rotational program and most of these workers are nominated again by the employer year after year and are allowed to return to Canada seasonally. [5]

Live-in Caregiver Program

The Live-in Caregiver Program allows domestic workers from many developing countries to migrate to Canada to work as roles such as nannies, nurses or just extra help for families, the elderly or disabled. Some criticisms of the Live-in Caregiver Program is that by living in employer-owned units, the temporary workers often trade certain rights for access to jobs and a higher standard of living for themselves and their families.[6] The decision on where the worker lives should be their decision unlike the binding clauses in work contracts or agreements. However, workers who demand full rights or want to speak out against their employers risk their job and their ability to stay in the country.[7]

Criticism and Challenges

The TFWP creates a new class of workers and non-citizens in Canada and the program promotes inequality and exclusion because of the limited restrictions and misinformation of the individuals.[8] In some cases, workers may not have a support network or guidance in Canada to help them adapt or to provide advice if any concerns or disputes arise. The Migrant Workers' Dignity Association is an organization that helps fight for workers' rights and make their voices heard especially for farm workers.

Misinformation

Workers may not always know what to expect when they enter Canada and thus are subject to abuse and the misinformation of their rights and policies and regulations.[9] Temporary workers have the same rights as any Canadian worker under the employment standards legislation. Therefore, any grievances that arise during their work period may never be addressed because of their lack or access of resources.

Illegal fees

Recruitment fees or immigration consultants and brokers may charge their clients large amounts of money for their services in helping workers find jobs and status in Canada. Workers may be tricked into paying for these services because they want to provide a better life for their family no matter what cost they may have to owe.

Work permits and restrictions

Jobs will either have open or employer restricted access to the mobility of their job and this will restrict the worker from changing jobs or being able to quit because of the fear that they will be sent back to their hometown. Certain jobs with employer restricted contracts typically mean that the worker is allowed into Canada to work for a specific employers and no other and changing this clause is very lengthy and difficult if the worker is unsatisfied or wishes to change environments.[10] In addition, work violations or troubles also may not be reported because the worker is dependent on his/her relationship with their employer. Many employers rehire the same temporary workers after their term is over to work the same position the year after and so forth.

Integration and discrimination

There is no requirement that workers must have formal English or French language proficiency levels which is the national language[11], and because of this many workers are segregated within the community because of the language barrier. There is a harder approach to assimilating into Canadian culture because these workers are only temporary and do not have a formal welcoming and often find it hard adjusting to their new environment. Some workers also live in employer-owned premises or spaces and they are confined to a certain area and routine as a result. In addition, workers that live in employer-owned housing may suffer substandard housing or inadequate living conditions.

Family separation

Sometimes workers may be separated from their spouses and families for an extended period of time which affects familial relationships and their mental health. Restrictions in work permits do not allow for spouses and family members to go with these workers to their new temporary homes[12]. If the worker is living somewhere that is provided by the employer, the employer is only allowed to provide housing for the worker and not any other family members. In most scenarios, the other spouses may not qualify for the worker permits however the benefit is worth the cost because these workers want to provide for their families back home.[13] The separation takes a toll on many relationships because the workers are unable to be connected with their family and may miss many traditions, milestones, important decisions and many more.

References

  1. Cundal, K., & Seaman, B. (2012). Canada's temporary foreign worker programme: A discussion of human rights issues*. Migration Letters, 9(3), 201-214. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1268696998?accountid=14656
  2. Cundal, K., & Seaman, B. (2012). Canada's temporary foreign worker programme: A discussion of human rights issues*. Migration Letters, 9(3), 201-214. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1268696998?accountid=14656
  3. Hennebry, J., Institute for Research on Public Policy, desLibris - Documents, & Canadian Electronic Library (Firm). (2012). Permanently temporary? agricultural migrant workers and their integration in canada Institute for Research on Public Policy.
  4. Hennebry, J., Institute for Research on Public Policy, desLibris - Documents, & Canadian Electronic Library (Firm). (2012). Permanently temporary? agricultural migrant workers and their integration in canada Institute for Research on Public Policy.
  5. Vosko, L. F. (2014). Tenuously unionised: Temporary migrant workers and the limits of formal mechanisms designed to promote collective bargaining in british columbia. Industrial Law Journal, 43(4), 451-484. doi:10.1093/indlaw/dwu026
  6. Pratt, G., Project Muse University Press eBooks, & Philippine Women Centre of B.C. (2012). Families apart: Migrant mothers and the conflicts of labor and love (N - New ed.). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. doi:10.5749/j.ctttt5jj
  7. Pratt, G., Project Muse University Press eBooks, & Philippine Women Centre of B.C. (2012). Families apart: Migrant mothers and the conflicts of labor and love (N - New ed.). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. doi:10.5749/j.ctttt5jj
  8. Taylor, A., & Foster, J. (2015). Migrant workers and the problem of social cohesion in canada. Journal of International Migration and Integration, 16(1), 153-172. doi:10.1007/s12134-014-0323-y
  9. Cundal, K., & Seaman, B. (2012). Canada's temporary foreign worker programme: A discussion of human rights issues*. Migration Letters, 9(3), 201-214. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1268696998?accountid=14656
  10. Cundal, K., & Seaman, B. (2012). Canada's temporary foreign worker programme: A discussion of human rights issues*. Migration Letters, 9(3), 201-214. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1268696998?accountid=14656
  11. Cundal, K., & Seaman, B. (2012). Canada's temporary foreign worker programme: A discussion of human rights issues*. Migration Letters, 9(3), 201-214. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1268696998?accountid=14656
  12. Cundal, K., & Seaman, B. (2012). Canada's temporary foreign worker programme: A discussion of human rights issues*. Migration Letters, 9(3), 201-214. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1268696998?accountid=14656
  13. Cundal, K., & Seaman, B. (2012). Canada's temporary foreign worker programme: A discussion of human rights issues*. Migration Letters, 9(3), 201-214. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1268696998?accountid=14656


Submitted by: Christina Fung