Canadian employers and some governments continue to whip up hysteria that Canada has a worker shortage. This, they claim, will increase dramatically over the next decade. However, even a quick glance at what is going on should make any sensible person skeptical of these claims.
Tim Horton’s is one of the employers taking advantage of the hysteria. Between 2007 and 2012, it received permission to bring close to 15,000 Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW’s) to Canada. Many other employers have done the same thing. Together, Tim Horton’s and other employers were allowed to bring in about 400,000 TFW’s in 2012.
The big question that has to be asked is this: Was this good for Canada? Here are a number of important things that have to be considered :
(1) Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker program has to be monitored much more carefully and limited to a tiny number of occupations in order to prevent TFW’s from over-staying-as they have in other countries. The fact that 400,000 Temporary Foreign Workers are now employed here indicates that our government will have serious difficulty in ensuring that these workers leave Canada when their contracts expire. For example, according to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Tim Horton’s coffee and doughnut shops received permission to import 14,195 workers between January 1, 2007 and August 31, 2012, a number that will probably increase to 15,000 by the end of 2012. This number will shock most Canadians even though it is a small part of the total number of TFW’s. But the point is that many similar fast-food outlets and like businesses are doing the same thing. Together, they constitute a significant percentage of the TFW’s allowed to work here. The big question is this : Why have employers like this been allowed to import so many workers to industries that are probably of little, if any, benefit to Canada?
(2) Like Canada’s regular immigration program, Canada’s TFW program is being used to flood the labour market and to cause wage stagnation or wage depression. Most of the Tim Horton’s TFW’s (10,888) came from the Philippines. It is likely that these Filipinos are displacing Canadians who are looking for entry level jobs. It is also likely that the Filipinos hope to stay in Canada, are unskilled, and will compete for jobs with unskilled Canadians. Such low-wage jobs will not pay for the services these people will absorb.
(3) Most of the countries from which Canada is taking TFW’s are countries such as the Philippines where high unemployment is entrenched and where people are desperate for any job. In the 2007 to 2012 period, the countries which sent the second and third highest number of TFW’s to Tim Horton’s were Mexico (565) and India (248), also bastions of unemployment and low wages. Less significant source countries were Jamaica (112), Ukraine (84), Sri Lanka (62), Nepal (38), Pakistan (37), El Salvador (37) and Fiji (34). All of these countries are not known as world models for working people. The strangest source country was North Korea which sent seven TFW’s. We use the word “strange” because North Korea is an impoverished police state which does not allow its people to leave.
(4) Our intake of TFW’s is not helping Canada. According to Statistics Canada, our national unemployment rate fell slightly in November, but it remains almost institutionalized around 7.2%. According to a number of critics, the real unemployment rate is much higher. In particular, the youth unemployment rate is officially around 14%, but it too is under-estimated and is probably well over 20%. Nobody in any country should ever have to ask whether employers and governments have a responsibility to employ their own citizens and to ensure that citizens are not treated as disposables. But in Canada, the shameless, corrupt behaviour of many employers and of governments has shown that the question has to be asked.
(5) In order to maintain Canada’s high TFW intake, employers and our governments have engaged in deceit. For example, in the past month in British Columbia, both employers and the provincial government argued that Canada had to import Mainland Chinese miners because Canada supposedly did not have any miners qualified to do those jobs. The uproar that followed has revealed that Canada does have miners able to do those jobs. If it doesn’t have enough, it can train them. In spite of the deceit practiced by both Mainland Chinese mine owners and the B.C. government, another truth has come out : that the Mainland Chinese owners of the mines intended to pay the Mainland Chinese miners significantly less than they would have been required to pay Canadian miners. This was the real reason for importing Mainland Chinese TFW’s.
(6) The Chinese TFW miner incident has revealed the age-old problem of using labour from China and other over-populated, low-wage countries : such labour has always arrived at the expense of Canadian workers. In China’s case, the damage required the Canadian government to enact Head Taxes and a Chinese Labourer Exclusion law to correct the messes that low-wage labour businesses created.
Like in-sourcing Chinese labourers to Canada 100+ years ago, out-sourcing jobs to China in the past 20 years, has been a disaster for workers in most western countries. China has used western out-sourcing to make billions. To add insult to injury, it has been taking the billions it has made on its low-wage labour and used it to go on a massive, world-wide, resource-buying spree.
In dealing with China on in-sourcing TFW’s and issues like China’s purchase of Canadian energy giant Nexxen, Canada should have reflected on the damage done by both out-sourcing and in-sourcing and then asked one key question : Would China have allowed Canada to buy a part of China? The answer is a clear “NO!!” Therefore, it was foolish for our government to have just allowed China to buy Canadian energy giant Nexxen and its oil lands in Canada.
What is good for Tim Horton’s (and many other businesses) is often not good for Canada.
For details on Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) statistics about Tim Horton’s use of Temporary Foreign Workers, see the following link :