Recently, there has been a lot of talk about Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) in Canada. The issue has divided the country, with many in favor or the program and large numbers against it. I would like to share my perspective as a Canadian who left my country because I could not find a job at home.
The TFW program is unfair to both TFWs and Canadians. The TFWs are entirely beholden to the employer who has brought them to Canada. These workers are afraid to complain of unsafe working environments, housing conditions or any other abuse for fear of being shipped back home to the desperate situations they left behind in their homelands. At least in Canada, they have food, safe drinking water, a roof over their head and some money to send back to support relatives waiting to join them as TFWs in Canada. Actually, TFWs in Canada have a pretty good deal in comparison to Canadians who no longer have fair access to jobs because more and more businesses prefer to hire TFWs rather than train and employ Canadian youth or older, able-bodied Canadians for entry-level positions.
The real goal of the TFW program is higher profit for business. There is no shortage of workers in Canada willing to accept entry-level positions, work in the restaurant or retail industries. This is a myth supported by business to keep wages and benefits low. In a healthy economy, with a labor shortage the result should be higher wages for everybody. Business would be forced to compete with other businesses for employees and have to pay better wages to retain good employees. Instead in Canada, corporations insist that there are no Canadians available for work and they have to look abroad for workers. Yet, there are thousands of Canadians without jobs who claim they cannot find a job. Personally, I was unemployed for fourteen months and applied for jobs at Tim Horton’s, McDonalds, Burger King, Wal-Mart, and several other low-paying and entry-level positions across the country but to no avail. During this time, thousands of TFWs found positions in my country while my application was ignored. The reality is that TFWs are being hired and Canadians are being overlooked for jobs.
Another myth, supported by business is that young and unemployed Canadians have a poor work ethic. Business leaders claim that TFWs work harder, are more punctual, do not take holidays and perform better on the job. Moreover, they suggest Canadian youth are lazy and the unemployed lack the necessary skills and discipline to hold down a job. This scenario may be true in a few cases but to suggest that the majority of our youth and unemployed fit into this group is wrong. The truth is that business leaders have taken the easy route by hiring TFWs instead of innovating and training Canadians for jobs. In other words, profits are more important than hiring Canadians.
Another myth propagated by many businesses in places like Alberta is that unemployed Canadians from areas with high unemployment will not move to other provinces for work. However, Easterners have left their villages and towns for decades in search of work and a better life in other parts of Canada. There are thousands who support families in the east while working in the west – very similar to the TFWs supporting extended families in their home countries. Others would leave if they had the means to make the move to greener pastures but without jobs and assistance it is not possible. Unfortunately, in recent years many Canadian companies started to recruit overseas and provide the airfare, set-up costs, and housing for TFWs to fill these jobs that were once available to Canadians. I had to move to the other side of the world for a job but I would rather be at home working in a low paying, entry-level position or on the cash in a grocery store instead of typing away in my cubicle in a foreign land.
The bottom line is that the Canadian government needs to put an end to the TFW program until all unemployed Canadians, who are willing to work, have a job. As citizens of Canada we should support Canadian companies that hire Canadians. The present TFW program is definitely not in our best interests of our country or its citizens.
Here are a few recent stories about TFWs being hired while Canadians get overlooked for jobs as well as some of Canadians with jobs being let go in favor of TFWs.