July 24, 2024 4:48 AM

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Temporary Foreign Worker Program Sees Significant Increase in Demand Across Canada

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) in Canada has seen a significant rise in popularity, with employers hiring more than twice as many workers in 2023 compared to five years ago. According to an analysis of federal data by CBC, the program’s usage has surged across various sectors.

In 2018, the program hired 287 administrative assistants, a figure that jumped to 3,337 by 2023. The construction sector saw an even more dramatic increase, with the number of construction laborers hired through the TFWP rising from 132 in 2018 to 5,353 in 2023. 

According to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), the program brought in 239,646 temporary foreign workers in 2023, an increase of 130,658 compared to 2018.

The TFWP was designed to alleviate short-term labor shortages for employers. However, it has faced criticism for creating vulnerabilities for workers and undermining healthy market competition. The program has drawn discontent from business groups, labor unions, and citizens alike. 

One of the reasons for the increased demand for temporary foreign workers has been the relaxation of program rules following the reopening of the economy after the pandemic. Critics argue that the TFWP exploits workers, citing issues such as job offers disappearing upon arrival, lower-than-promised wages, and substandard housing with exorbitant rents.

Some sectors, like farming, have become heavily reliant on the TFWP. 

During the unemployment spike in 2020, domestic labor proved less productive than temporary foreign labor, reinforcing the dependency on the program. 

Despite its benefits for employers, the program has been criticized for fostering a perception of temporary workers as disposable labor, with calls for better treatment and access to the same programs as other workers in Canada.

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