Windsor's temporary foreign workers doubled in 3 years

Statistics show the number of temporary foreign workers employed in Windsor has more than doubled since 2009.

Western University professor Mike Moffatt is calling on Ottawa to release more data on the program

Employment Minister Jason Kenney needs to release more detailed information on just who is hiring temporary foreign workers, says one Western University professor. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Statistics show the number of temporary foreign workers employed in Windsor has more than doubled since 2009.

The website for the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration shows 614 were employed in 2009. That number jumped to 1,550 in 2012, the last year for which data is available on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website.

The increase puzzles Mike Moffatt, a business professor at Western University in London, Ont.

Moffatt crunched the numbers of temporary foreign workers in southwestern Ontario.

He found use of them is on the rise, not just in Windsor, but across the region. At the same time, Moffatt says there is really no need for them.

Moffatt says part of the problem is that no one knows what these workers are doing in Windsor.

He would like the federal government to release that information.

"Specifically [Employment Minister] Jason Kenney, I would like to see him release some of this data so researchers, like me, can look at the data and figure out exactly what's going on and why we're getting so many temporary foreign workers in the area," Moffatt said.

Moffatt says the parliamentary budget officer has asked for more information about what temporary workers are doing but the federal government hasn't complied with that request.

"The defence of the program is that we need these people because there is a labour shortage in Alberta and Sakatchewan," Moffatt said.

In March, the Parliamentary Budget Officer reported that he could find little evidence of systemic or countrywide job shortages or skills mismatches, although he said there was some labour-market tightness in Saskatchewan and some isolated sectors.

"It turns out a lot of them are coming to southwest Ontario," Moffatt said. "We can’t figure out who in Windsor is hiring temporary foreign workers. Are they working places like coffee shops and restaurants, jobs a lot of people in Windsor and London would love to have."

Windsor's unemployment rate was 7.3 per cent in March.

The London-St. Thomas unemployment rate rose was 8.2 per cent in March.

"We’re bringing in more and more workers into the worst labour markets in the country," Moffatt said. "People see that and think this doesn’t make sense."

The number of temporary foreign workers has ballooned in Windsor. (Courtesy Mike Moffatt)

Employment and Social Development Canada uses different metrics than Statistics Canada and the Department of Finance to calculate job vacancy rates

The federal Liberals are proposing changes to Canada's troubled Temporary Foreign Worker Program, including regular probes by the auditor general.


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