After years of praising the Temporary Foreign Worker program, Employment Minister Jason Kenney has suddenly slammed the door in the face of the program’s biggest user: the hospitality industry.
Statistics show that the Temporary Foreign Worker program has been gradually spiralling out of control. Despite initially being introduced as a ‘last resort’ program, one in five net new paid jobs created in Canada between 2007 and 2012 was filled by a migrant worker. Furthermore, the period between 2005 and 2012 saw a 140 per cent increase in the migrant employment rate. Even the business-friendly C.D. Howe Institute confirmed that the program has pushed up unemployment.
The statistical evidence has been around for years. The hospitality sector alone had 45,000 guest workers on the roll by 2012, with migrants making up 40 per cent of net new positions since 2009. A more convincing explanation for Mr. Kenney’s sudden change of heart was the damage the issue was doing to the government’s political base.
Economic conservatives, represented predominantly by the small business lobby, supported the TFW program as an effective way to reduce labour costs. Despite the availability of plenty of unemployed Canadians to fill positions, foreign migrants are continually hired since they usually lack the full legal protections available to Canadians and would do the work at a lower wage.
Mr. Kenney’s actions seem quite subjective: There is only a political, not economic, rationale for limiting the moratorium to the restaurant industry. Even as he announced the action, Mr. Kenney energetically defended the broader TFW program.
The solution to Mr. Kenney’s TFW dilemma lies in increasing permanent immigration and giving these workers the same rights Canadian citizens are afforded. However, this method would hardly prove popular among either of the two constituencies concerned: business lobbyists seeking cheap labour and social conservatives who want less immigration.
Source: The Globe And Mail