Cross Country Checkup

Should long-time temporary foreign workers be offered permanent status in Canada?

Temporary Foreign Workers: For tens of thousands of them who've been in Canada for four years, April 1st was the deadline to leave. Many are distraught, and some businesses are hurting. But is it better for the economy and for Canadian workers?

Temporary Foreign Workers: For tens of thousands of workers who've been in Canada for four years, April 1st was the deadline to leave. Many workers are distraught, and some businesses are hurting. But is it better for the economy and for Canadian workers? Or, should long-time workers be given permanent status in Canada?



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This past week the work permits of tens of thousands of temporary foreign workers expired. April 1st was the first in an ongoing series of deadlines for workers who have been in Canada for more than four years but who are  not on the path to becoming permanent residents.

It is not clear how many foreign workers have already left - or about to leave. Nor how many may be given last minute reprieves. Like Stephan Biletzki, who works as a server at Jasper Park Lodge in Jasper, Alberta who got an email saying he had an extension on his work permit just hours before he was due to take a flight back to Germany.

What the April 1st deadline does do is to underline the government's resolve to toughen the rules governing temporary foreign workers in Canada.  Those rules state that after a maximum of four years of employment temporary foreign workers must return to their country of origin, unless they are able to get the support of their employer and the services of an immigration lawyer - Maybe then their temporary foreign worker status can be changed into permanent residence status. 

This is a topic that is rife with confusion and uncertainty for employers and for the temporary foreign workers who come to Canada to seek work.

Does Canada need temporary foreign workers? Do they fill a gap in the labour market? Are they for the most part doing jobs that Canadians are not inclined to do? Are temporary foreign workers a better fit in jobs requiring unsociable hours - such as on holidays like this Easter Sunday? Or are temporary foreign workers taking needed jobs away from Canadian workers?

Should temporary foreign workers be allowed in certain occupations and not others? Should they be allowed in certain regions because the employment situation certainly varies across the country. And should those workers who have been here a long time be given the opportunity for permanent resident status?

These are some of the questions we want to explore today. And we we would like your opinion and isights on them.

If you are an employer we would like to hear from you. Do you find it difficult to find willing and able workers - and if so - are temporary foreign workers a solution to that problem? What about wages? Is it an option to offer higher wages to attract the Canadians in your own community?

If you are a looking for work, do you feel that it's harder to find a job if you are competing against workers who may be prepared to work for lower wages? Is that fair?

Our question today: "Should long-time temporary foreign workers be offered permanent status in Canada?"

I'm Rex Murphy  ...on CBC Radio One ...and on Sirius XM, satellite radio channel 169 ...this is Cross Country Checkup.


Peter Wong
Calgary immigration lawyer representing employers and temporary foreign workers.

Gil McGowan
President of the Alberta Federation of Labour
Twitter: @gilmcgowan

​Tina Cresswell​
Town Councillor owner of Star Cafe in Maple Creek, Sask. who uses temporary foreign workers.
Twitter: @TinaCresswell

​Dominique Gross
Economist and Professor School of Public Policy, Simon Fraser University, and author of a report published by C.D Howe Institute titled: Temporary Foreign Workers in Canada: Are They Really Filling and Labour Shortages. 


National Post

Globe and Mail

Vancouver Sun


Alberta Federation of Labour

C.D. Howe Institute


Employment and Social Development Canada


Citizenship and Immigration Canada