BC temporary foreign workers

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Introduction

Originally this program was implemented to meet labour shortages within its domestic community, however it could also be seen to fill the labour shortage with workers who require low levels of education and training. As volume of temp workers increase in Canada and also permanent residency status, policymakers use it as regulatory device to lower labour standards and wage levels.

History

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

Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP)

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

Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP)

Every year 30 000 agricultural workers come to Canada with the top three countries being Guatemala, Phillipines and Thailand. There is a lack of Canadian farm workers because they don't want to do the job and because the low wage and hard laborious work is unappealing to many. The majority of migrant farm workers coming from Mexico and Jamaica. Mexico's SAWP entries rose from 203 to 15 809 in 2010. This program works in a rotational program and most of these workers are nominated again by the employer year after year and allowed to return to Canada seasonally.

Live-in Caregiver Program

The Live-in Caregiver Program allows domestic workers from many developing countries to migrate to Canada. 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. 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. This program is highly popular for many Filipinos who have expertise in the health care department or caregiving back in the Philippines and come to Canada to work as nannies, caregivers for the elderly or disabled and senior home nurses.

Criticism and Challenges

Some of the main challenges that BC's temporary workers face include:

Inaccurate information prior to departure

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. 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 recruitment 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 because they want to provide for their family at want a better life in Canada no matter what cost they may have to pay or be in debt.

Work permits and job mobility 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. 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.

Employment standards

Integration and discrimination – language, housing and basic services

There is no requirement that workers must have formal English or French language proficiency levels which is the national language, 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

Restrictions in work permits do not allow for spouses and family members to go with these workers to their new temporary homes. 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. 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.