Douglas Todd: The downside to increasing low-skill migration to Canada

Good overview of recent research on low-skill migration and the government’s repetition of the Harper government mistakes before correction after a few years:
Former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper found himself in trouble in 2014 for jacking up the number of temporary foreign workers coming to Canada to work at places like McDonald’s and Tim Hortons.
Then-opposition leader Justin Trudeau, labour unions and the media went into overdrive — attacking Harper for pandering to the business lobby by inundating the market with hundreds of thousands of low-skilled temporary foreign workers, many of whom were vulnerable to exploitation.
To the surprise of many, Harper responded to the outcry. He sharply reduced the number of guest workers and brought in laws encouraging employers to improve working conditions and hire more people who were born in Canada or had become permanent residents.

Source: Douglas Todd: The downside to increasing low-skill migration to Canada

Transition from temporary foreign workers to permanent residents

Former Minister Alexander’s asserted before CIMM during its study of C-24 that:

…it’s very important to distinguish between the two different broad categories of status that non-Canadian citizens can have here. One is temporary resident status and the other is permanent resident status. We are saying that the time that will count toward citizenship is permanent resident status. We don’t want those lines to be blurred. (28 April 2014)

This latest Statistics Canada belies that dichotomy, as do IRCC’s Open Data data sets (my chart below based upon this series – Transition from Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident Status.

There were 310,000 temporary work permit holders on December 31, 2015, accounting for 1.7% of the national employed workforce. The number of TFWs has more than quadrupled since 2000 (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada 2017).

Over the 2000s, immigration to Canada was increasingly drawn from TFWs. For instance, the proportion of newly landed adult immigrant men already holding a job in Canada rose from 16.3% in 1999 to 28.9% in 2010. Most of this increase consisted of immigrants who had high-paying jobs in Canada before attaining permanent resident status.

About 9% of TFWs who came to Canada between 1995 and 1999 became permanent residents within five years of receiving their first work permit. This was the case for 13% of those who came to Canada between 2000 and 2004, and for 21% of those who came between 2005 and 2009.

Most transitions from TFW status to permanent resident status occurred within the five years following receipt of the first work permit. The rate rises another 1 to 3 percentage points by the 10th year, with little increase observed thereafter.

Transition rates

The rate of transition to permanent residence varied by type of work permit. Among those who came to Canada between 2005 and 2009, the five-year transition rate was highest among those in the Live-in Caregiver Program (LICP), at 56%, and the Spouse or Common-law Partner category, at 50%. The lowest rates for transition to permanent residence were among those in the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP), at 2%, and the Reciprocal Employment category, at 9%.

A large difference in the transition rate by type of work permit is a result of government policy. For example, while all those in the LICP are allowed to apply for permanent residence after two years of full-time work as domestic workers, SAWP workers have no dedicated stream for transition, and may only be employed for a maximum of eight months per year. Their SAWP permits, however, can be renewed over many years.

Source: Transition from temporary foreign workers to permanent residents