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April 1, 2015, temporary foreign worker deportations, and a note of caution to those happy about TFWs leaving



I’ve talked for a long time, in this blog and in other sites, about how April 1 places thousands of temporary foreign workers in a precarious situation – 70,000 TFWs (and an estimated 16,000 in Alberta) will have expired work permits and will either go undocumented or will be deported. (Click here and here for articles I wrote this week on this issue on Rabble).

What worries me is that there is a lot of misinformation circulating about the Temporary Foreign Worker Program that have led numerous folks – some of whom are ironworkers in Alberta – to celebrate today. “Finally,” they’ve been posting, “will get access to the jobs that temporary foreign workers have taken away from us.” Beyond the fact that these sentiments show a lack of compassion towards people whose lives will soon be put at risk, I also worry that the folks saying this are not realizing that the departure of temporary foreign workers under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program will not help them.

The TFWP primarily enables the entry of low-skilled workers. These are workers who pour your coffee at Tim Horton’s, make your burgers at McDonald’s, clean the bathrooms and toilets in your offices. These are workers whose paycheques barely go above the minimum wage. The temporary foreign workers who ‘stole’ Canadians’ jobs in the skills-trade DID NOT come in through the TFWP but through a little-known program called the Intracompany Visa Agreement which still exists and has never been regulated. This CBC article, towards the end, even mentions that the tradesmen who are angry that they’ve been replaced by TFWs admit that these workers did not come in through the TFWP but rather through the intra-company visa agreement. (I believe it is extremely irresponsible that the CBC did not make this distinction early in the article).

In short, people are protesting the presence of temporary foreign workers who didn’t ‘steal’ their jobs. The TFWs who are being deported today are “low-skilled” and do jobs Canadians do not want to do.


About Ethel Tungohan, Ph.D.

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