Advocates on behalf of migrant-workers are lobbying the newly elected liberal government offer temporary workers a path to permanent residence upon arrival to Canada. The Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada representing live-in caregivers, seasonal agricultural labourers and other low-skilled workers is also urging the government allow workers the option to leave the employer who sponsors them.
According to government statistics, by 2012 the number of temporary employees admitted into Canada had more than tripled over the previous decade. Last year, after controversial reports surfaced of companies using the program to displace Canadian worker, the Conservative government downsized its temporary foreign worker program by imposing restrictions and creating lengthy processing delays. The program for low wage jobs, in its current format, is restricted to regions with an unemployment rate higher than 6 per cent.
The conservative government also imposed a controversial four-in-four-out rule limiting temporary workers to a four-year stay in Canada. This restriction has been criticized by businesses. These changes have affected businesses and created difficulties for those who want to retain trained workers for over four years. The long term aim is for temporary workers to receive permanent resident status in Canada.
The coalition urged these reforms to avoid the exploitation of low skilled workers, which it claims will continue as long as their right to remain in the country depends on a continuing relationship with their employer.
The Liberals may be receptive on the basis of past history. In the Alberta meatpacking industry, employers were able to permanently retain 70% of low skilled temporary foreign workers under provincial pilot programs. A further review of these policies may prove worthwhile.
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