The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) was introduced by the Canadian government as a respite for Canadian employers who claimed to have been beleaguered by inadequate supply of indigenous labour. Under the programme, employers are allowed to employ and bring non-Canadians into the country for a limited time under temporary foreign work visas.
The TFWP, designed as a solution to filling temporary labour shortage needs, has in recent years etched its way to becoming a permanent means of labour supply to the Canadian economy. Employers have been able to cut production costs and increase profits by attracting temporary foreign workers (TFWs) who would settle for unethically low wages and poor working conditions, but not without raising dusts of protests and human rights activism from the domestic labour, especially the labour unions. These developments suggest that employers have deviated from the real intent for the TFWP i.e. combating short-term labour shortage.
This paper critically analyses the issues of concern that have been raised concerning the TFWP. It then argues that TFWs are needed to supplement local workers and support the economy. Effective operation, supervision and regulation of the program is recommended as a means by which the domestic labour and the Canadian economy would be able to harnessing its benefits.
"We live in the era of the greatest human mobility in recorded history. The current labour market, demographic and economic trends are such that it is unlikely to change for anytime in the near future. So the question is not whether we are for or against migration, we simply have to learn how we can best manage it, by having everyone on board for the benefit of all."
- William Lacy Swing, IOM, 2011.
Temporary employment has been defined by Cassirer (1999) in Fuller and Vosko (2007) as 'paid work that does not allow for the prospect of ongoing employment beyond a limited duration. It in practice encompasses a diverse set of situations where employment may be externalized by place of work, administrative control, work timing or scheduling'. In Canada, there is an absence of consistent definitions of temporary employment in standard statistical sources and it is often the norm to include contract or term, agency, seasonal and casual (on-call) employment (Fuller and Vosko, 2007), as part of paid work.
"The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) enables employers in Canada to hire foreign workers on a temporary employment basis so as to meet short-term skill and labour needs when Canadians or permanent residents are not available to meet the short-term skill and labour needs" (HRSDC, CIC & CBSA, 2012:1). In the event that Canadian employees are unavailable, temporary labour migration plays a major role in enabling employers to meet immediate skill and labour requirements (Finance Canada 2007 in Nakache and Kinoshita, 2010). Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program is "an umbrella label for various national programs known collectively as the TFWP" (Eggerman, 2005: 36). It is not a single program, but rather, a set of programs comprising of several categories which have been referred to as 'labour market streams' by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). These streams have been classified in different ways by various authors in academic literature; nonetheless the different literary classifications exhibit a good degree of overlap. The different classifications "can be roughly broken down into groupings of less- and high-skilled occupations" (Sweetman & Warman, 2010: 19). The five streams of the TFWP as identified by Eggerman (2005) are: High-Skilled Occupations, Low-Skilled Occupations, the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program, the Live-in Caregiver Program and the Provincial Nominee Program. In the same vein, Trumper and Wong (2008) identified six programs under the TFWP. These are: Agricultural workers, Domestic Workers/Live-In Caregivers, High-tech workers, Canada Pilot project for occupations requiring lower levels of formal training (National Occupation Classification (NOC) C and D), The Provincial Nominee Program and the Canadian Experience Class. Different rules apply to each class of the TFWP. These include: eligibility, the need for Labour market opinion (LMO), requirement of open or restricted work permits, the role of the employer, whether family members can accompany or not, whether medical screening is required or not, and whether or not there is a possibility of transitioning to permanent residence. Some of these rules, whether as a stand-alone or combined, serve as a prodigious hindrance to migrant workers' access to freedom within host countries (Eggerman, 2005). Within policy and academic circles, the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) and the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) have been the subject of more attention and discussion than the other categories of the TFWP (Nakache and Kinoshita, 2010).
The temporary foreign worker program was first introduced in Canada as the Non-Immigrant Employment Authorisation Program (NIEAP) in 1973 and has since undergone various major changes. (Nakache, 2010). Although some form of temporary foreign worker process has been in place since Confederation, NIEAP was instituted as a means of introducing stricter legal control and management on the entry and movement of temporary foreign workers (TFWs) (Trumper and Wong, 2008).
While the TFWP has been highly appraised as an effective way to fill labour shortages in the labour market, it has also been the object of much denunciation. Nakache and Kinoshita (2010), note that the TFWP has been denounced by many because the programs place too many restrictions on workers' mobility and give too much power to employers, thus resulting in increased vulnerability of temporary foreign workers.
Reporting in 2012, the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) noted that four TFWP labour market streams require a positive Labour Market Opinion (LMO) before a foreign worker is hired. According to Sweetman and Warman (2010), 'a large number of temporary foreign workers foreign workers do not fit into these categories'. The four streams requiring a LMO are: high-skilled occupations, low-skilled occupations, the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) and the Live-In Caregiver Program (LCP). An LMO determines whether there is a need for a foreign worker and whether there are no Canadian workers available to fill the position as well as, the impact the foreign worker would have on the Canadian labour market. The LMO is a means of safeguarding permanent residents against foreign competition (Sweetman and Warman, 2010). Prior to obtaining an LMO, employers are required to demonstrate that they have made attempts to hire labour locally without success. If their labour seeking efforts are found to be valid, the LMO is carried out to determine labour shortage. The confirmation of a labour shortage precedes the migrant being granted the temporary work permit, which is employer and time specific. Thus to change employer, job or job location, the TFW has to obtain a new work permit (Byl, 2010).
In 2008, for the first time in its history, Canada admitted more temporary than permanent residents (Nakache and Kinoshita (2010); Siemiatycki (2010). The increased rate of admitting temporary workers into the country has been a cause for alarm in various quarters of the domestic economy. Apart from being an increased focus area for researchers, it has been the root cause of many labour union and workplace activists' demonstrations and rallies. Elliot-Buckley (2013) reports that, 'TFWs have become a lightning-rod topic in Canadian Labour'. Indeed, "the debate around temporary foreign workers and their working conditions has gathered momentum across Canada" (Pullenayegem, 2007: 5).
As with other high income economies, Canada is becoming increasingly characterized by labour market segmentation. This is a situation whereby domestic or native workers look down on certain sectors of the labour market because they are 'low-paying, have little security, and are low-status, and thus have become dominated by migrant workers' (Koser, 2007). On this note, Semiatycki (2010:60) states that, 'such programs as TFWP have typically been designed to regulate the admission of desperately needed non-White, foreign labour in occupations offering working conditions and wages shunned by the native-born population'. Employers of temporary low-skilled labour consider these workers a source of cheap labour which drives down production costs. The flexibility and cheap nature of employing TFWs is an advantage for employers. The migrant workers are however, often subjected to exploitation and abuse from these employers (Koser, 2007).
At a 2013 press conference, Alberta Federation of Labor's president, Gil McGowan stated that ''the Temporary Foreign Worker program is lowering employment standards, creating opportunities for exploitation, disenfranchising workers, and displacing well-trained Canadian trades people." In the same vein, Paula Kirman's report of 2nd April, 2014 in Digital Journals highlights how Edmonton's trade union conducted a rally against the TFWP. The protesters were of the opinion that the labor shortage claimed by employers is a farce and that the TFWP takes jobs away from Canadian workers while exploiting foreign workers with lower wages and improper training. One speaker at the rally likened the TFWP to a modern day slave trade.
It is quite obvious that employers and labor unions differ in their views of the TFWP. "There are reasons to believe demand from employers for TFWs may stay strong"(Siemiatycki, 2010:62). Quoting from Stanford and Vosko (2004),
This paper critically analyses the issues of concern that have been raised in relation to Canada's TFWP. It argues that TFWs are needed to deal with labour shortage, supplement local workers and support the Canadian economy. Effective management of the TFWP is recommended as a way forward in the adoption of the program for the benefit of all the parties involved.
Following this introductory section is section two where the history and general overview of Canada's TFWP is discussed. A critical review of issues of concern that have been raised in relation to the TFWP is carried out in section three. This section adopts the term 'social locations' as used by Fuller and Vosko (2007), to categorise the issues. The fourth section discusses the impacts of the TFWP with a focus on its necessity and benefits for the different parties involved. The paper concludes in chapter five where it is recommended that effective management and tying of administrative loose ends would enhance the fulfillment of the TFWP's purpose of quelling labour shortage.
These terms are used interchangeably in the paper; temporary foreign workers, migrant temporary workers, migrant workers and guest workers. They all imply the same thing.
2.0 Overview of Temporary Migrant Worker Programs
"Labour history is full of vicious little timewarps, where archaic or long foresworn practices and conceptions of work are reinvented in a fresh context''" (Ross, 2001 in Choudry and Henaway, 2012)
The history of Temporary Foreign Worker Programs in Canada
Temporary migrant workers have always played a vital role in Canada's development. A long history of 'racialized, gendered, and classed immigration that has been put in place to meet labor market needs', (Trumper and Wong, 2010) characterizes the country. Initially inhabited by various groups of indigenous people, French and British immigrants arrived as primary settlers in the seventeenth century, making claims to political sovereignty and imperialism over the territory. These colonial powers encouraged immigration as an aspect of industrial and agricultural development and colonial expansion. Over time, settlers arrived from other neighbouring countries (Marsden, 2010). Some form of temporary worker process has always been in place since Confederation. Even though the initial strategy for nation building by the primary settlers was to create a British settler community, many of the capitalist class preferred the employment of temporary workers for such tasks as agricultural and industrial work, infrastructure and railway construction, and domestic work. "Whites" (Vosko, 2000) were found in higher paid and safe occupations while foreigners were employed for the lower paid and more risky jobs. Mining and railway construction for instance, were racialized jobs comprising distinct groups of workers. It was common to find such positions filled mainly by males from Asia and Southern and Eastern Europe. (Vosko, 2000).
As far back as the late 1800s to the early 1900s, as Marsden (2010) describes, there were records of foreign domestic workers serving middle and upper class families in Canada. Post World War II jobs were also filled with women and prisoners of war. The post war labour shortage is considered one of the factors that led to the creation of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers' Programme (SAWP). Maintaining the Fordist industrialization became challenging and this led Canadian farmers to place pressure on the Canadian Government to employ seasonal workers from the Caribbean in the late 1950s. The labour shortage which was initially viewed as a temporary occurrence persisted into the 1970s, leading to the hiring of more seasonal workers from Mexico and Portugal. The plight of these workers, particularly those without documentation, became a matter of concern for Canadian authorities. Many of them, as Basok (2000) records, 'lived under deplorable conditions, often in dirty barns'. Agreements were thereafter signed with labour supplying countries to guarantee adequate wages, humane treatment of workers, livable accommodation, and transport assistance. 'Canadian organized labor recognized the potential the temporary seasonal workers' program had to improve the wages and working conditions of local workers' (Basok, 2000), instigating the embrace of the program by state departments and organisations representing labor interests. International migrants thus became the solution to the scarcity of agricultural labor (Trumper and Wong, 2010). A hegemonic multiculturalism developed as well as the birth of a meritocratic immigration policy that adopted a points-based system in the 1960s. By the early 1970s, under an expanding Canadian economy, a system was established which accommodated the regulation of temporary workers. These TFWs were initially admitted as 'visitors' (Trumper and Wong, 2010) into a few select industries such as mining, logging and lumbering. In 1947, a contract labor program was set up and the hire of foreign workers extended into other specialised industries such as beet and sugar production in Western Canada, where the workers were employed as seasonal agricultural workers (Knowles 2000 in Trumper and Wong, 2010). Explicit racial distinctions were also made 'between groups of migrants on the basis of perceived ethnic desirability' (Marsden, 2010).
The Non-Immigrant Employment Authorization Program (NIEAP) instituted by the Canadian government in 1973, became known as the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) in the 1990s. It was the first formalized migrant worker program (Trumper and Wong, 2010). When the NIEAP was enacted, it established a new class of temporary residents tied specifically to non-permanent employment. The series of restrictions constructed on temporary residents continue to form the core characteristics of the TFWP today (Trumper and Wong 2010). Such restrictions include work permits tied directly to employment status; restriction of labor mobility rights by requiring formal permission to change employers or working conditions; and prohibition on applying for work permits or changing immigration status from within the country. Under the NIEAP, workers could not apply for permanent residency. It became legal to employ and subordinate 'temporary and permanently foreign workers' (Sharma 2007 in Foster 2012) - a category of workers who were denied many of the rights of residents.
Over the past few decades, Canada's foreign worker programs have been split into several streams to accommodate and address the needs of specific industries and occupations. 'Each stream varies in its permit restrictions and obligations to employers' (Fudge and MacPhail 2009). The numbers of foreign workers admitted into Canada steadily increased from less than 40,000 in the early 1980s to about 70,000 in 2009 (Foster, 2012). In the 1990s, two additional streams primarily targeting high-skill occupations were included in the TFWP.
2.2 Canada's present day TFWP
Historically, it was common for countries that had acute shortage of labour without immigration settlement policies in place, to adopt temporary foreign worker programs e.g. Germany and Switzerland. In recent times however, it has become rampant to have both standard immigration settlement programs and full-fledged temporary foreign worker programs operating concurrently (Gross and Schmitt, 2012). 'Many OECD countries have tailored TFW programs to target highly skilled individuals or skilled operations in general; but the past decade has witnessed a rise in programs for lower skilled workers and Canada has not been an exception to this' (OECD, 2006 in Gross and Schmitt 2012: 234)
In the category of migration systems1, Canada represents a receiving country playing host to thousands of foreign workers each year (Reed, 2008). Nakache and Kinoshita (2010) argue that in recent decades, Canadian immigration policy has shifted from permanent settlement to temporary residence under restrictive conditions. The proportion of immigrants with permanent residence status admitted into the labour market declined from 57% in 1973 to 35% in 2004 (Sharma 2007 in Taylor et al., 2012). In 2008, for the first time in Canada's history, the number of temporary foreign workers admitted was greater than that of permanent residents. While 250,000 people were granted permanent residence, 370,000 were admitted into the TFWP (Office of the Auditor General, 2009 in Choudry and Henaway, 2012). The province of Alberta has especially experienced a significant increase in the number of migrant workers employed through the federal TFWP. The number of foreign workers in Alberta increased from 11,386 to 65,748 between 2003 and 2009 (Taylor et al., 2012). The TFWP initially designed to attract skilled workers (Nakache and Kinoshita, 2010), has witnessed the addition of a seasonal and occupation specific component over time, i.e. the Farm Worker Program and the Live-in- Caregiver program. The program was also extended to include low skill workers in 2002 (Gross and Schmitt, 2012). Thus the four streams of the TFWP, according to Economic and Social Development Canada (ESDC, 2014) are Agricultural workers, Live-in caregivers, Lower skilled occupations and Higher skilled occupations. The TFWP comprises different subprograms with unique specifications. The four streams listed by the ESDC, although marginally different, are typical because they share similarities with past temporary migrant programs in Canada and other countries. Some of these include the pre-arrangement of a fixed term employment contract by workers, inability to change employers during the contract, lack of entitlement to family reunion and the requirement that workers must leave the country for a defined period of time upon expiry of permit.(Gross and Schmitt,2012). Sweetman and Warman (2010) refer to the TFWP as a 'very complex system' with a large amount of variation with regards to the history and operation of each stream.
A brief description of each of the four streams of the TFWP is as follows:
The Seasonal Agricultural Workers' Program (SAWP)
Formalised in 1966, the Seasonal Agricultural Workers' Programme is now the primary recruitment scheme of the horticulture industry. (Sweetman and Warman, 2010 ; Eggerman, 2005). The workers are primarily employed in greenhouses, tobacco, vegetable and fruit fields. Some are also found in packing and canning plants in the rural areas of Canada (Eggerman, 2005). The SAWP was originally an agreement between Jamaica and Canada but has expanded to other Caribbean countries and Mexico. The program operates in all Canadian provinces except Newfoundland and Labrador (Sweetman and Warman, 2010). A non profit private organisation, Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services (FARMS), is responsible for the day to day administration of SAWP (Hari et al., 2013; Nakache and Kinoshita, 2010). Under the SAWP, employers can hire TFWs for up to eight months per year. This implies that these workers spend a greater percentage of the year living and working in Canada. Employers are responsible for ensuring that minimum work standards are met, they provide housing and cover such costs as transportation and health insurance. There is no policy in place for workers under the SAWP to become permanent residents. (Sweetman and Warman, 2010; Eggerman, 2005; Nakache and Kinoshita, 2010).
The Live-in Caregiver program (LCP)
Established in 1981 and formerly known as the Foreign Domestic Movement Program this stream institutionalised the entrance of temporary domestic workers in Canada (Sweetman and Warman, 2010). Originally implemented to fill labour shortages in the caregiving industry, the LCP has literally become the solution to care giving in Canada (Eggerman, 2005). The LCP workers care for children, the elderly or the disabled. There has been a significant rise of entrants into Canada through this stream evidenced by a threefold increase in the number of workers between 1995 and 2005 (Trumper and Wong, 2010). Recruitment of LCP workers is conducted through privatised recruitment agencies (Eggerman, 2005). "Since 1992, the minimum requirements for the workers are completion of formal education equivalent to a Canadian high school degree; English or French language ability; either six months of full time training, or 12 months of paid work experience related to the job" ( Sweetman and Warman, 2010: 20).
Migrants in the LCP have access to permanent residency, a perk that sets the program apart from other programs in the TFWP and that has greatly boosted its popularity (Eggerman, 2005). Majority of the migrants are women and the chief source country is the Philippines. Trumper and Wong (2010) state that poverty in the Philippines has produced this flexible group of women who take up domestic work in private households in Canada and elsewhere around the world, many of who are professional nurses. Upon hiring a worker, the employer has some obligations to fulfill. These include, 'signing a contract containing the caregiver's expected duties, providing a monthly or bi-weekly paycheque that lists salary deductions and providing a room and board in their own house' (Eggerman, 2005).
Created in 2002, this program is commonly referred to as the Low-skilled Worker Pilot Program. Under this program, employers can hire for certain low-skill occupations (National Occupation Classification (NOC) C and D). Workers employed through this scheme are required to have a high school diploma or two years work experience. The duration of this program's permit was extended from 12 to 24 months in 2007. A renewal of the permit after its expiry entailed that the worker returned to the home country for at least four months (Sweetman and Warman, 2010). This means of admitting foreign workers into Canada developed from the demand for labour arising as a result of the development of Alberta's Tar Sands. Workers under this stream are employed in such areas as landscaping work, Tim Horton's fast food restaurants, food production retail, large laundry services and many other fields (Choudry and Henaway, 2012).
Under this arm of TFWP, employers hire foreign workers to fill high-tech positions and occupations requiring few skills, i.e. managerial and professional occupations (NOC O or A) and technical occupations and skilled trades (NOC B). Workers In 2005, high tech workers comprised 7.3% of all TFWs. From 1995 to 2000, the highest percentage increase of these workers was from Asia and the Pacific, the Americas, Africa and the Middle East respectively (Trumper and Wong, 2010). There are programs in place for these workers to transition to permanent residency. Their spouses also have rights to obtain work permits (Sweetman and Warman, 2010).
The TFWP, an employer driven program (Cundal and Seaman, 2012) requires employers to demonstrate a genuine labour shortage, such as lack of success in filling a position with indigenous labour, despite advertising over a stipulated period. When this is done, the HRSDC conducts a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) which is essentially an assessment of the impact the foreign worker would have on the labour market (Eggerman, 2005 ; Marsden, 2010). A positive LMO by the HRSDC leads to the issuance of work permit to the foreign worker by the CIC (Sweetman and Warman, 2010).
Temporary employment authorization, unlike permanent residence, limits the worker to a specific employer and a single work contract. The end of the contract signifies the termination of the work permit after which the worker must return to the sending country of reapply for a new work permit (Reed, 2008; Hennebry and Preibisch, 2009).
The Canadian government is promoting temporary foreign migration for economic reasons and specifically to promote economic growth. It has been considered an increasingly important factor in helping businesses remain competitive in the booming economy (Fudge and MacPhail, 2009). Regardless of the promotion of the TFWP by the federal government, it has been sorely criticized by many. Eggerman (2005) likened Canada's TFWP to the transatlantic slave trade, claiming that recruitment of workers under the program is a clear example of capitalism. Cundal and Seaman (2012), state that the TFWP is being used to meet long-term labour needs especially those requiring lower levels of education and training, despite its original design as a solution to temporary labour shortages. There has been a shift toward the employment of lower-skilled temporary foreign workers, signalling the increasing reliance of employers on their labour (Marsden, 2010). Despite its long history of migration, the rapid growth in temporary migration of lower skilled labour is an unprecedented occurrence for Canada (Cundal and Seaman, 2012). Paralleling the shift to lower skilled workers is a change in the source countries of the workers (Nakache and Kinoshita, 2010).
In the following section, this paper explores various criticisms to which Canada's TFWP has been subjected.
3.0 Issues of concern surrounding the TFWP
"Race is engendered while gender is racialized...the sexual division of labour is racially encoded along class lines"- Eisenstein (1996) in Shin (2009)
This section explores the issues of concern that have been raised concerning the TFWP. Borrowing the term 'social locations' from Fuller and Vosko (2007), 'the issues surrounding the interaction between political and economic conditions and social relations as they relate to the TFWP would be reviewed, i.e. gender, race/ethnicity, class/stratification and human/workplace rights of migrant workers. Social factors such as race, ethnicity and gender impact on opportunity and allocation in the labour market significantly (Trumper and Wong, 2010). However as Fuller and Vosko (2007) suggest, the axes of labour market disadvantage are not necessarily constructed in consistent and straightforward axes, so these issues would be considered intersectionally and alongside other issue such as the role employers have played in engendering these concerns.
The demographic composition of temporary employment as a whole seems to be shaped by gendered social relations. Gender has shaped patterns of economic restructuring over history and the recent spread of temporary employment in Canada has reflected such tendencies (Fuller and Vosko, 2007). According to Eggerman (2005), Marxists feminists have pointed to the existence of gender differences in unfree labour.
Genderisation in Canada's TFWP has been reflected in several ways. For instance, under the SAWP, a highly masculinised stream of the TFWP, employers are allowed to choose the genders of their workers on an annual basis. Hennebry and Preibisch (2007) argued that this ability to choose the gender of their workers enables employers to execute gendered labour strategies which promote productivity while discouraging worker solidarity.
According to Trumper and Wong (2010), analysis of gender in the TFWP carried out by CIC in 2006 reveals that there has been a feminisation of temporary workers. Between 1995 and 2005, the number of female workers increased by 76% while that of males increased by a mere 29% in comparison This process of feminisation can be attributed to the solicitation for not only low-skilled but also some high-skilled flexible labour throughout the world. The source areas of women involved in the feminisation of the TFWP are primarily Asia and Pacific, the Americas and Europe. From 1995 to 2005, as reviewed by Trumper and Wong (2010), the number of female temporary workers from Asia and Pacific was 110%, 84% for the Americas and 71% from Europe. These figures also attest to a subtle infringement of race on the program.
Women's labour is considered different from that of men and it has been largely excluded from the calculations of capitalism's paid labour. In Canada as in many parts of the world, domestic labour is still considered non-work to a large extent and the effort put into it is highly devalued (Eggerman, 2005).
The high-skilled workers stream of the TFWP has also been described as a highly gendered program by Trumper and Wong (2010).
The TFWP has undoubtedly resulted in the creation of a racialized labour force within Canada. Since its inception, the TFWP has been a program comprised of a distinct and racialized labour force within Canada in which workers are extremely vulnerable to exploitation and face specific barriers to accessing social benefits (Byl, 2010; Marsden, 2011). Racialisation has become increasingly pronounced in the TFWP. The SAWP and LCP in particularly, draw workers almost entirely from non-white countries. Over the last decade, there has been increasing admission of TFWs from the Philippines, India and China (Cragg, 2011).The 'visibleness' of nannies and caregivers has increased substantially under the LCP, in keeping with the racialization of women's household work (Trumper and Wong, 2010)
Siemiatycki (2010) describes the TFWP as a program 'designed to regulate the admission of desperately needed non-White, foreign labour in occupations offering working conditions and wages shunned by the native population'. Canada is increasingly projecting an image of a country "built upon the labour of groups with low-status who are discriminated against based upon their race or country of origin" (Cragg, 2011:16). The LCP in particular, has witnessed an increasing proportion of workers from the global South. It has as a result, become racialized and associated with specific socio-economic classes and places of origin (Marsden, 2011).
A more pronounced trend of racialisation of the TFWP is the difficulty encountered by TFWs in achieving economic equality with other Canadians, higher average levels of education notwithstanding (Fuller and Vosko, 2007). Employers are often reluctant to recognise and appropriately reward the credentials and experience TFWs bring into Canada. Income inequality has also been found amongst temporary workers on the basis of race and gender (Fuller and Vosko, 2007).
Mc Dowell (2009) documents Pratt (2004)'s work with Filipina women in the Vancouver labour market. The constrained options of these migrant women into Canada were studied. The findings of the study reveal that origins and status of migrants in live-in caregiver work, map onto employment and result in 'the establishment of a status hierarchy, both between and within domestic occupations in the city'. In McDowell's own words, "Caring jobs- nannies and childminders- have a higher status than cleaning and housekeeping, and lighter skinned migrants are more highly valued as nannies." (Mc Dowell, 2009: 95). Pratt argues that 'by constructing a migration category- live-in caregiver- the Canadian government denies new Filipina migrants citizenship rights for the first two years after entry, placing them in an inferior position to citizens in the job market, and as a result creating hierarchies (classes) or eligibility based on embodied social characteristics' (Mc Dowell, 2009).
The display of class in the TFWP is reflected by the absence of routes to permanent i
mmigration for all the 'streams' except the High-skilled Workers program. According to Siemiatycki (2010), class distinctions loom large in the pathways offered by the Canadian government to citizenship for TFWs.
Goldring (2010) argues that temporary migration programs do not always safeguard the rights of migrants. According to Ruhs (2012: 1278), "human rights derive from a 'common humanity' and the 'inherent dignity of each person' rather than from citizenship of a particular country". TFWs especially low-skilled workers have been known to suffer from inadequate housing, illegally low wages, withholding of their passports and unsanitary working conditions (Goldring, 2010). Steill and England (1999) as seen in McDowell (2009) carried out a Canadian study on the ways employers related to young, live-in domestic workers. They found that these workers were treated as daughters and were expected to be available at all hours, yet they were often subjected to rules that barred them from freely using all spaces of the family home. As McDowell (2009) expressed, even when living conditions are excellent, nannies and other live-in caregivers find it highly restrictive to live in someone else's home. The LCP stream of the TFWP entails a form of embodied interactive work where location within walls of individual homes strengthen the feelings of guilt, ambivalence, love, trust and obligation, all part of the social relations involved in the exchange of care for wages (McDowell, 2009). A high price is paid for emotional management as described by Hochschild in Strangleman and Warren (2008).
These issues also serve as a pointer to why it is highly complex and difficult to organise TFWs into a labour force (Choudry and Henaway, 2012)
The effects of family separation on TFWs have only recently become a subject for research. (Seaman and Cundall, 2012). The restriction on family reunion found in three of the four streams of the TFWP, entails that workers spend long periods away from their families. This might increase the susceptibility of TFWs to loneliness.
Employers and the mismanagement of the TFWP
Many employers are dissatisfied with how the government determines prevailing wage rate for specific occupations in the TFWP. Some employers ignore the wage set out in the employment authorization contract and pay temporary workers less. (Fudge and MacPhail, 2009).
Employers tend to combat labour shortage by the employment of agency labour. Henaway and Choudry (2012), describe this scenario in detail. Many temporary foreign workers encounter high levels of exploitation due to employers' aims to reduce costs of production and maximize profits. They choose to employ workers through the use of agencies. Most of these agency workers are temporary migrants who provide a flexible form of labour that employers can hire without the obligation of conforming to government approved labour standards. The employers usually have no other requirement other than that the workers can satisfactorily carry out the assigned tasks. Temporary agency work is highly precarious with the workers having 'limited access to social benefits and statutory entitlements linked to the duration of an employment relationship' (Vosko, 2009). These workers are referred to as 'warm bodies', defined by McDowell (2009) as a (derogatory) term used by agencies to refer to supplies of unskilled workers for general menial work.
Temporary foreign workers tend to fill low-status jobs and live in poor conditions. There is substantial evidence that migrant worker face specific disadvantages. They often have no or limited legal rights and suffer discrimination in the criminal justice system. They have limited access to education and healthcare. They are often excluded from civic participation. They can also suffer harassment and racial and religious hatred and violence. Koser (2007)
Summarily, increasing reliance on 'foreign-born' workers leads to the construction, enactment and maintenance of gendered, racialised and classed hierarchies (McDowell, 2009). Increasing prominence of these arrangements will worsen labour market inequalities along these axes. The differentiation between the types of temporary employment to be taken up based on being a man or a woman, white or visible minority display inequality (Fuller and Vosko, 2007). income inequality has been found amongst temporary workers on the basis of race and gender.
In the next section, the necessity of the of the TFWP and its impacts on the Canadian economy as well as sending countries is examined in greater details.
4.0 Impacts of the TFWP
Issues of concern for the domestic labour
Canada is witnessing significant demographic shifts with a rapid increase in the proportion of its seniors. Labour shortage and decrease in fertility rate looms with the persistence of this phenomenon. Both high and lower-skilled workers would be needed to sustain the economy and maintain Canada's competitiveness in the current face of neo-liberalization and rapid rate of globalization. Nakache and Kinoshita, 2010 report from Canadian Chamber of Commerce (2008) that 'Canada will experience a labour shortage of nearly one million people by the year 2020'. International migration is reputed to be a lifeline for population growth and for supporting the domestic labour force. The notion of labour shortage in Canada as in other developed economies is said to be more than a simple lack of workers to fill jobs. Sharma (2006) as seen in Marsden (2011) thinks that it is more accurate to say that there are certain types of work, described by the 'three Ds': dangerous, dirty and difficult, which are perceived by Canadians and permanent residents as undesirable and therefore fit for temporary labour. If this is true, then the labour shortage will very likely continue thus necessitating immigration and the employment of foreign workers. International immigration is reputed to be a lifeline for population growth and providing support for the domestic labour force.
International mobility, a result of capitalism, is redefining the static or 'sedentarist' structures that characterised western society traditionally. Social class, static residence and stable employment are facing the threat of extinction (King, 2012). The impacts of the TFWP on the labour market in Canada have been in line with the founding fathers' (Marx and Weber) theories about the ambiguous consequences that capitalism and modernity would have on individuals and groups (Strangleman and Warren, 2008). Many labour supporting groups have expressed dissatisfaction with the TFWP. The Alberta Federation of Labour is a prominent example of such. Apart from the fact that the many changes to the program has been entrenched quietly, and without formal announcement or debate (Foster, 2012), expression of displeasure from Canada's domestic labour and its observers, could be due in part to the fear of 'others'. Mc Dowell (2009) states that, 'the universalisation of the dominant group's experience and culture and its establishment as the norm, works to stereotype the views and experiences of people outside this dominant norm leading to their construction as the 'Other''. "The fast worldwide transformation of the labour force raises fears about its negative aspects, picturing scenarios of catastrophes in which endless groups of aliens- mostly foreign workers- move around the globe, crossing the state's geographical, natural, cultural, social and political boundaries" (Ajzenstadt and Shapira, 2012: 688). The latter also argue that the "fear from 'others' contribute to the design and establishment of regulations, control mechanisms and penal strategies, such as exclusion, incarceration, detention and deportation, in order to manage mass migration".
A major concern raised about the increasing influx of cheap foreign labour into the economy is that it could suppress domestic wage growth, and this could have adverse effects on long-term growth and the welfare of domestic workers. The availability of low wage immigrant labour has also been viewed as having the potential to inhibit the upgrading of skills and the modernization of technology in the domestic economy (Athukorala and Devadason, 2012). 'Although many developed countries are attempting to control the inflow of foreign workers, conclusions pertaining to the effect of foreign worker inflow are not uniform" (Shimada, 2005: 355). There are research gaps on the impact of TFWs on the Canadian economy, especially as it pertains to consumers, government fiscal issues and international trade (Sweetman and Warman, 2010).
Adverse reactions and issues of concern from Canada's domestic labour notwithstanding, globalisation has led to the proliferation of migrant workers and the use of temporary workers has become a permanent feature of the Canadian labour market (Taylor et al., 2010). The growth in temporary foreign labour is a capitalism induced phenomenon that has come to stay and it cannot be discarded (Foster, 2012; Marsden, 2011).
Benefits for the Canadian economy
Temporary migration is a customised solution for destination countries. It allows specific labour market to be filled for a particular period and in a given location (Koser, 2007). The TFWP has the immediate effect of providing a readily available pool of labour, with the number of workers admitted being adjustable to the Canadian labour market conditions. Through the TFWP, Canada has enhanced its national industries in an 'internationally competitive economic environment' (Reed, 2007).
The TFWP has allowed Canada to benefit from a cheap source of labour, often willing to work in sectors in which regular migrants and nationals are not interested (Koser, 2007). As a result of deregulation, liberalization and 'flexibilization', there is growing demand for various forms of unskilled and semi-skilled labour employed, even under precarious conditions.
Both sending and receiving governments of foreign workers benefit economically through the existence of cross-border migration between them. Canada has several working relationships based on cross-border labour migration. These include agreement with the Philippines for the LCP and agreements with the Caribbean and Mexico for the SAWP. Under the policy framework of managed migration, governments specify the number and types of workers to be admitted. The bilateral agreement is set up to ensure that governments benefit from it and its primary use is to secure access to overseas markets (Reed, 2008).
Temporary migration leads to increased flexibility in the labour market and can pass for a more acceptable phenomenon to electorates who consider permanent immigration a threat. It keeps the long-term challenges of social integration at bay and provides a legal channel for labour migration. This can ultimately contribute to a reduction in the flow of unauthorised migrants (Dube, 2010).
Benefits for sending countries and TFWs
While academic literature and the media are replete with unpleasant issues surrounding the TFWP, the program has not been completely unjust to TFWs.
Temporary foreign migration reduces domestic unemployment for sending countries and contributes to financial inflows through remittances. The temporary nature of the migration also forestalls long-term brain drain. More so, the additional skills that TFWs return with can be a 'brain gain' for sending economies (Koser, 2007).
Remittance is one of the most important factors that motivate sending countries to support the TFWP. Through the earnings from remittance, governments have a means to stabilizing national economies. Mexico and Philippines are two of the world's topmost recipients of remitted earnings. These remitted earnings are accounted for as part of sending countries' gross national product (GNP) (Koser, 2007). "Remittances are part and parcel of a lucrative global financial system that drives sending countries to tap into these flows for their economic advantage" (Reed, 2008: 481-482).
5.0 Conclusion and Recommendations
There is no denying of the fact that the irregular nature of the TFWP can pose serious problems for all parties involved. Nonetheless, a way forward for Canada's TFWP is effective management. Whereas people once spoke of controlling irregular migration, they now speak of managing it and efforts to deal with irregular migrations dominate policy discourses around the world (Koser, 2007). This signifies the recognition of a need to shift gears in strategy, from control to management. If any just and equitable solutions are to be found to the complex issues surrounding the TFWP, Pullenayegem (2007) suggests, it is important that the debate around it is widened and reframed to include core principles of public justice that recognise and enforce the rights and responsibilities of all actors. The loose ends in the administration of the TFWP that must be tied as seen from Nakache (2010) include vague policies and guidelines; numerous changes in administration not accompanied by changes or clarifications in the legislature; overlapping policies and; miscommunication and confusion arising from leadership under wide discretionary powers i.e. HRSDC, CIC and CBSA.
There will doubtless be a continuous struggle with the challenges of integration, as the scale and diversity of the TFWP increases, but it is projected that they will adjust to new global economic realities and fundamental demographic changes (Koser, 2007) as has been the case of other guestworker programs in history.
The reality of the permanence of the TFWP should be embraced and the domestic labour should seek ways to make the most of it. Despite official claims to the temporariness of the TFWP, research has shown that it has become a pervasive feature of the Canadian labour market. Low-skilled TFWs in particular are being use by employers to fill permanent positions. As the aphorism goes, 'there is nothing more permanent than a temporary foreign worker program'.
Employers should respect the human dignity of temporary foreign workers and desist from workplace exploitation and socio-legal exclusion of the TFWs.
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