Up until last spring, the low-skilled stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) was a pilot project intended to address short-term labour shortages in Canada. Last summer, with program changes made to implement Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney's "transformational change" for Canadian immigration, it now takes its place as a permanent stream. As a whole, TFWP today accounts for the largest stream of people entering the country, admitting over 213,000 people last year. Almost one-third of those people come on time-limited permits through the various low-skill streams of the TFWP and most of this group have no path to permanent residence. As the program as a whole tripled over the last decade, the low-skilled class of newcomer has grown rapidly, supplying workers for everything from fast food restaurants to agricultural workers, and live-in caregivers.
Even as TFWP has grown, it hasn't received as much attention as changes to other immigration streams. That changed somewhat late last year, when a mining company in British Columbia hired 201 workers under this class, instead of hiring or training Canadian miners. The government at the time promised to review the program, but the issues that arose with that specific case aren’t the only ones that have come up about TFWP. I spoke with labour and human rights lawyer Fay Faraday, who's authored a report critical of this program for the Metcalf Foundation: "Made In Canada: How the Law Constructs Migrant Workers’ Insecurity." You can watch our conversation above.
This is the second of three conversations I'm having with immigration experts on the changes to the immigration system implemented last year. Previously, I spoke to Mario Bellissimo about legal challenges to the government's elimination of a backlog of files under the Federal Skilled Workers program.
We'd really like your feedback on these conversations, so we can get a sense of the issues that are most important to our viewers, and then follow up with additional programming. Please tell us below what you think of the proposed reforms, how the government is handling them, and what you think needs a more detailed discussion.