Temporary foreign workers: Canada needs fewer guests – and more citizens

Globe editorial:

What should Mr. Kenney do?

Study the issue: Take the time needed to get this right. Commission a group of experts and give them at least six months. Bring the other parties in, and borrow their best ideas. Don’t just introduce legislation in the next few weeks, backed up by nothing more than a thin press release and no actual evidence, and try to hustle it through Parliament. Learn from the fiasco of the Fair Elections Act.

Be principled: A temporary worker program should be for jobs that are temporary. There’s a logic to bringing in seasonal agricultural workers. There may be a logic to some highly skilled workers being brought in under the program, in cases where no trained Canadians exist or where the job is temporary. But burger flippers?

Shrink the program: Make it smaller. Much smaller. Cap the number allowed in each year. Let Canada’s labour market work. If employers in low-wage fields find that they have to offer compensation in excess of minimum wage to attract short-order cooks, customer-service agents and retail sales people, that’s a good thing. It will lead to higher wages for people at the low end of the wage scale, and it will also spur innovation and productivity gains. We want the market to work and to self-correct as it is supposed to, with a tight labour supply in one area of the country forcing up wages, thereby drawing in the underemployed, be they part-time students from down the road or the unemployed from across the country.

Give temporary workers more rights: Shrink the program – but expand their rights. Why not give them the right to change jobs, and even complete labour mobility within Canada, just like Canadians? Give them the power to fight back against abuse and raise their own wages.

More citizens, fewer guests: Canada was built by immigrants who became citizens, not visitors who went home. That’s our future, too.

Citizenship Bill C-24 at Committee goes in other direction, by making citizenship harder to get and no longer providing credit for time spent in Canada as temporary foreign workers.

Temporary foreign workers: Canada needs fewer guests – and more citizens – The Globe and Mail.

Interestingly, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business includes in its recommendations on Temporary Foreign Workers a pathway to citizenship, while the government’s Bill C-24 makes this more difficult given removal of partial credit for pre-Permanent Residents time:

•  Ending the moratorium on restaurants

• Creating a pathway to permanent residence for all TFWs

• A Bill of Rights for TFWs

• Stricter enforcement of existing rules

• An accredited TFW stream for trusted employers

• Matching TFW/Canadian wages by employer

• Maximum 1:1 ratio of TFWs to Canadians

• Allowing permanent immigration for those in entry-level jobs

• Ensuring other government programs (eg. EI) address need for entry-level workers.

CFIB urges feds to end moratorium, enforce rules, protect TFWs’ rights – National Scene – Daily Business Buzz.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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