The number of temporary foreign workers coming to Yukon is on the rise. That's in sharp contrast to workers coming in through the territory's nominee program, which allows foreign workers to eventually become citizens.
In 2010, only 42 people were approved through the temporary foreign worker program. In 2012, that number reached 95. Last year, the federal government approved 70 applicants.
The number of nominee workers coming into the territory has been dropping steadily over the last five years, from 157 in 2009 to just 65 people this year.
The Yukon Education department handles immigration in the territory.
Department spokesperson Mark Hill says the decline is directly related to a downturn in the economy.
"When the economy isn't growing by leaps and bounds, it's easier for employers to find workers. In addition, it's a nominee program, as opposed to a temporary foreign worker program, so those people are staying. They're becoming permanent residents staying in out workforce."
NDP Leader Liz Hanson is concerned about the trend.
“The Nominee Program actually provides those participants with the opportunities to actually become citizens,” Hanson says. “And what we would be worried about is if the territory was to follow the trend of moving towards temporary foreign workers to replace nominees. We think the nominee is much preferable because we will need, and always need in this country, new immigrants.”
Most temporary foreign workers are not allowed to apply for permanent residency unless they are transitioned to the nominee program by their employers.
“There's a tendency to look at people somewhat like commodities, Hanson says. “They could be moved around wherever the jobs are. I'd much rather see us building our economy by the contribution of people who are citizens and the nominee program lends itself to that."
Hanson says she plans to raise the issue in the legislature.