Temporary foreign workers in low-skilled jobs must start leaving Canada today

The clock ran out Wednesday for thousands of temporary foreign workers in Canada as work permits expired for those who have been in the country for more than four years.

OTTAWA — The clock ran out Wednesday for thousands of temporary foreign workers in Canada as work permits expired for those who have been in the country for more than four years.

In 2011, the Conservative government set April 1, 2015, as the deadline for temporary foreign workers in low-skilled jobs to either become permanent residents or return home.

In Alberta alone, 10,000 temporary foreign workers have applied to stay in Canada.

Immigration Canada hasn’t divulged the total number of workers who are now required to leave, but immigration and labour market experts have estimated tens of thousands are affected.

Richard Kurland, a Vancouver immigration lawyer, said temporary workers with legal representation have found ways to stay past the deadline with so-called bridging options that could lead to permanent residence.

But many workers can’t use that approach, Kurland said.

“The sad thing is that the victims are people unable to access bridging provisions that would have given them more time in Canada … because a large number can’t access immigration lawyers; they can’t afford it.”

Vanessa Routley, a Toronto immigration lawyer, was critical of the deadline.

“The four-year limit deliberately and unfairly targets the lowest-paid and lowest-skilled temporary workers … executives and engineers will not be affected,” she said.

“Rather than offering these hard workers a pathway to permanent residence where they could continue the low-skilled jobs nobody else wants, the Canadian public has been sold a line that exchanging one legion of temporary workers for another every four years is a solution.”

Employment Minister Pierre Poilievre defended the government’s position.

“Our policy is that Canadians should come first for Canadian jobs,” Poilievre said after Wednesday’s weekly caucus meeting.

“The April 1st deadline has been known for a very long time, and the purpose of the program is for it to be temporary. That’s why they’re called temporary foreign workers.”

Businesses should increase their wage rates and hire Canadians if they’re struggling to fill positions, he added.

Immigration Minister Chris Alexander has also said that “permanent residents have never been more numerous.”

But Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau accused the Conservatives of further “mismanagement” of the temporary foreign workers program with the April 1 deadline.

“This is yet another example of a government that lacks both compassion and a flexible reasonableness around supporting both Canadian businesses and industries and some very vulnerable people who are continually hoping for a path to citizenship,” Trudeau said.

Several organizations, including the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the Alberta Federation of Labour, have called for an easier path to permanent residence and eventually citizenship for temporary foreign workers, especially those employed in provinces with labour shortages.

The CFIB has warned that hotel rooms won’t be cleaned and the lineups at fast-food restaurants will move a lot more slowly with fewer foreign workers.

Gil McGowan, head of the labour federation, said in a statement that Canada doesn’t need “an exploitative” temporary foreign worker program.

“What we need is real immigration. We also need better training — both in our schools and from employers — so that Canadians can benefit from the opportunities offered in our national and regional labour markets.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ice shifted to the shoreline at Sylvan Lake on April 21. (Photo contributed by Andrea Swainson)
Icy shores of Sylvan Lake

A local photographer has captured how the ice has shifted to the… Continue reading

Curtis Labelle (second from left) and his band are planning a cross-Canada tour in 2022. Meanwhile, Labelle is continuing to host his weekly livestreamed talk show, Chattin 88. (Contributed photo).
Red Deer rock pianist takes on a talk show role

Curtis Labelle’s Chattin 88 gets views from around the globe

A boat sits idle on the banks of Villa Victoria Dam, the main water supply for Mexico City residents, on the outskirts of Toluca, Mexico, Thursday, April 22, 2021. The mayor of Mexico City said the drought was the worst in 30 years, and that problem can be seen at the series of reservoirs that bring in water from other states to supply the capital. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
FILE - In this Jan. 18, 2020, file photo Caitlyn Jenner speaks at the 4th Women’s March in Los Angeles. Jenner has been an Olympic hero, a reality TV personality and a transgender rights activist. Jenner has been consulting privately with Republican advisers as she considers joining the field of candidates seeking to replace Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in a likely recall election later this year. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
Jenner adds celebrity, questions to California governor race

Celebrity activist immediately stands out in a growing field

FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019 file photo, Jeremy Fleming, head of the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), in London. Western countries risk losing control of technologies that are key to internet security and economic prosperity to nations with competing values like China and Russia if they don’t act to deal with the threat, one of the U.K.’s top spy chiefs warned on Friday, April 23, 2021. “Significant technology leadership is moving East” and causing a conflict of interests and values, Jeremy Fleming, director of government electronic surveillance agency GCHQ, said in a speech. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, file)
UK spy chief says West faces ‘moment of reckoning’ on tech

China’s Foreign Ministry condemn the remarks

Brooke Henderson, of Canada, watches her tee shot on the 17th hole during the final round of the Tournament of Champions LPGA golf tournament, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Canadian Brooke Henderson vaults into tie for fourth at LPGA Tour event

Henderson is sixth in the world women’s golf rankings

Switzerland’s skip Silvana Tirinzoni makes a call during a women’s curling match against Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Natacha Pisarenko
Previously unbeaten women’s teams suffer setbacks at Grand Slam curling event

Top six women’s and men’s teams qualify for the playoffs.

FILE - Gal Gadot arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Gadot is using her Hollywood star power to spotlight remarkable women from around the world. The “Wonder Woman” actor is host and executive producer of a new documentary series “National Geographic Presents IMPACT with Gal Gadot,” premiering Monday, April 26. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
Gal Gadot spotlights women’s stories in new docuseries

First episode follows a young Black figure skating coach in Detroit

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino listens to speakers during a news conference in Ottawa, Friday October 2, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Retaking language test unfair during COVID-19: applicants to new residency pathway

New program aims to grant 90,000 essential workers and international graduates permanent status

LtE bug
Letter: Questions around city funding for Westerner

The Advocate article on April 21 on page 3 “Council to discuss… Continue reading

Most Read