Ottawa expands temporary foreign workers program to Ont., Atlantic provinces
Posted By Nicholas Keung
The Canadian Press
February 12, 2008
The federal government is expanding the temporary foreign worker program into Ontario and the Atlantic provinces to help fill the provinces labour needs.
Immigration Minister Diane Finley announced Monday the opening of the program's two new offices in Toronto and Moncton, N.B., in addition to the three already established in Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal.
“Employers across Canada now have a dedicated point of service where they can get help getting the workers they need,” Finley said in a statement. “The units will help make the process easier for employers, and will help strengthen local and regional economies.”
The foreign worker program has been around for decades, originally designed to attract elite professionals and specific low-skilled labourers, such as live-in caregivers and agricultural workers.
It has grown in the last couple of years to also include low-skilled foreign workers, especially in Alberta's restaurants, hospitality, oil sands and construction industry.
Last year, Canada took in 125,000 temporary overseas workers – a 32 per cent increase from five years ago.
The program is promised to grow as it supplements the backlogged immigration point system, which targets skilled workers but fails to respond effectively to labour market changes.
Though Ontario remains the top destination for temporary foreign workers, many of them agricultural workers and live-in caregivers, the fastest growth of the general labour intake is in Alberta, which received 91,000 applications and approved 37,000 in 2007.
However, the abuse and exploitation of these workers were so rampant that the Alberta Federation of Labour last spring set up an advocate office to assist the growing rank of temporary workers who often face language barriers and are unfamiliar with Canada's labour laws.