Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the government doesn’t want immigrants taking jobs that unemployed Canadians are available to do. He added that Canada will not allow the creation of a “permanent underclass” of foreign workers filling jobs here for long periods with no hope of citizenship.
The comments came during an appearance with Philippine President Benigno Aquino as he justified a clampdown on the temporary foreign worker program in Canada.
Due to a four-year limit imposed on how long temporary foreign workers can remain in Canada, thousands of workers are now being forced to return to their homelands.
Harper defended the changes by saying that the government doesn’t want immigrants taking jobs that unemployed Canadians are available to do.
“But just as importantly, we are making sure that when people come to this country to work and to work long term, they have the ability to move towards being permanent citizens of this country,” Harper said.
“This country is not going to have a policy, as long as I’m prime minister, where we will have a permanent underclass of temporary, people who are so-called temporary, but here forever with no rights of citizenship and no rights of mobility.
“That’s not the Canadian way we do immigration. So we’re going to make sure that that program does not drift in that direction.”
On April 1, 2011, the low-skilled workers lost their work permits due to a policy that was introduced requiring any temporary foreign worker who has been here for four years to leave.
In July 2014, the government moved to further restrict the use of foreign workers after criticism that the influx of these workers was causing lower wages and leaving Canadian workers unable to find work.
In 2013, 27,292 permanent residents were admitted to Canada from the Philippines, ranking third behind China and India. The two leaders used their recent meeting in Ottawa to announce that Canada and the Philippines would begin “exploratory” about a potential free trade deal.
Harper also announced that Canada would provide just over $3 million for security initiatives in the Philippines, including port and maritime security and the deployment of Canadian police trainers.
President Aquino thanked Canada for its humanitarian help in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, which killed an estimated 6,000 people. Canada dispatched military personnel to assist citizens displaced by the devastation and pledged $90 million in aid.