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THE TEMPORARY FOREIGN WORKER PROGRAM IN CANADA: LABOUR MARKET SOLUTION OR OPEN DOOR FOR ABUSE?

Abstract

One of the most controversial and often-discussed aspects of the modern global migration system is the issue of precarious labour in the context of migration. In both unauthorized migrants, in particular in the United States and Europe, and authorized guest worker regimes, most prominent in the Gulf
Monarchies, employers and firms have found large pools of labour not subject to the same legal and social norms as the native workforce. This trend, which has existed since at least the post-World War II period but has been rapidly increasing in the 21st century, has not been without controversy, from a variety of political perspectives. Precarious workers in these conditions are sometimes accused of “stealing†jobs from native-born workers or of driving down working conditions in the receiving countries. Conversely, many NGOs concerned with human rights have drawn attention to the various abusive and exploitative elements embedded within these regimes. Workers are often tied to one particular employer, may not be subject to minimum wage or other workplace legislation and often live in squalid conditions.
This paper will investigate the various controversies around the Canadian Temporary ForeignWorker Program (TFWP), with a particular focus on the effects, or lack thereof, of recent reforms to the program. In doing so, it will compare the policies and application of Canada’s program to other, similar programs in developed countries in order to create an accurate portrait of the programs stated and implicit goals and how successful it is achieving them. In addition, the paper will attempt to locate the TFWP’s place within the wider system of migration control policy in the Canadian context, and the extent to which it is congruent with the broader stated values of these policies.