Sunday, 16 May 2010

1/3 Of Temporary Foreign Workers Are Low Skilled Labourers vs. 4/5 Of All Immigrants.

In the Saturday, May 15, 2010 edition of the Toronto Star we read the following headline on page A22: "Foreign workers increasingly less skilled". I am writing that because I cannot find the article at the paper's website to link to but the Globe and Mail covered the same story. You can read it here.

Both articles report on an Institute for Research on Public Policy press release about the growing presence of temporary foreign workers in Canada. The Institute appears to be a left leaning organization and concerning the topic at hand seem to be lobbying for permanent residency for temporary foreign workers. This is an unwise move as is Canada's increasing reliance on temporary foreign workers who are temporary in name only. As I have heard it related before there is nothing more permanent than a temporary foreign worker. We only have to look at north African Muslims in France, Caribbean migrants and West Indians in the U.K., Turks in Germany, and Mexicans in the U.S. south west to validate that statement. These were people introduced into those countries to meet "temporary labour market needs" such as post war reconstruction in Europe and seasonal farm work in the United States. Now they are all permanent fixtures of those host societies.

Both the Globe and the Star articles reveal pertinent information. First the Globe.

Three years ago Canada passed a significant milestone when, for the first time, it accepted more temporary foreign migrants than permanent residents.[...]

A new study from the Institute for Research on Public Policy suggests that the rapid growth of the temporary foreign worker program could undermine the model of integration that has so far made Canada’s consensus on expanded immigration the exception among Western nations.

I take exception to that last sentence. There is no consensus on expanded immigration. There is only consensus among those the media and politicians choose to pay attention to for self serving reasons, groups who routinely lobby for more expansive immigration for equally self serving motives. Groups like ethnic vote banks and lobby groups, social workers, "progressive" social advocacy groups, immigration lawyers and consultants, and of most importantly of all the business community seeking to keep wages and salaries artificially low in a potentially contracting labour market.

There is rarely a consensus on anything especially when it comes to social policy of which immigration is a part of but I have come to expect these kinds of loaded statements from Globe journalists. One particular Globe journalist appeared on a TVO show hosted by Steve Paiken in which the journalist implied, quite ignorantly, that Canada has the best immigration system in the world simply because we accept the most per capita. Yes, I agree. He is a moron.

Since 2002, the number of temporary foreign workers in Canada has nearly doubled. The program is in part a response to an aging population, but increasingly workers are sought for the unpalatable or poorly paid jobs Canadians simply refuse to take on.

Another statement that needs to be challenged. Canadians "simply refuse to take on" those jobs because they are "poorly paid". And immigration makes sure those jobs remain poorly paid. Lionizing, and romanticizing, immigrants who take those jobs does not increase their standard of living and attacks the standard of living Canadians are accustomed to. But the paragraph is revealing. It tells us where the "job growth" is coming from, not outright mind you, but it does hint at it.

The program’s growth, from about 100,000 temporary foreign workers present in Canada in December, 2002, to more than 250,000 in December, 2008, has created a kind of permanently temporary work force, Prof. Nakache said. The situation is somewhat reminiscent of European guest-worker programs, which spawned years of social unrest in countries such as Germany, she said.

This is a growing problem and I am fearful that the only solution the government will take is to issue a blanket amnesty adding over tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of "new Canadians" into the labour pool with the stroke of a pen. This on top of the already burdensome 250,000+ we take in each year. How this can be good for the average Canadian is beyond me.

This next paragraph is important because it comes from the mouth of Canada's Minister of Immigration and Multiculturalism himself, Jason Kenney, and with his own words Mr. Kenney reveals from where he takes his marching orders.

"Here’s the truth. Those who want to shut down this program, essentially the labour unions and those who are in their employ, they have to tell the orchard farmer in the Okanagan that his business will go under because no one will help with the harvest,” Mr. Kenney said. “The critics of this don’t even try to balance their critique with the very real and urgent labour shortages that are being faced by many businesses. They disingenuously dodge this issue by suggesting the employees are being underpaid or exploited.”

The business community speaks and Jason Kenney obeys.

Olivia Chow, the NDP's immigration critic does have it right.

NDP immigration critic Olivia Chow described the increase in temporary foreign workers as a terrible policy that breaks with Canadian tradition. It’s bad for the economy, because it depresses wages and is a disincentive to invest in potentially more expensive Canadian workers, and bad for society, she said.

Where she is consistently wrong is believing that Canada's high immigration intake and the emphasis on family reunification are good things and that even more immigrants are needed. Her objections to the temporary foreign worker program is that it is not an avenue to permanent residency. Added together I'd like to hear her explain how this increase in Canada's labour pool, largely unskilled, does not depress wages and create disincentives "to invest in potentially more expensive Canadian workers" without tripping over her words.

Here's the kicker:

Although the program was initially created to help address the need for highly skilled workers, the majority of successful applicants now work in low-skilled jobs. Nearly half go to Alberta and B.C., many of them to work as meatpackers, seasonal agricultural labourers, construction workers or caregivers. They can apply to become permanent residents either through the provincial nominee program, or in the case of more skilled workers through the Canadian experience class.

Says a lot about where the "job growth" is coming from.

The Star article sheds more light on were the jobs are for immigrants. The article tells us that "between 2002 and 2008, the nubmer of temporary foreign workers in Canada rose by 148 per cent, from 101,259 to 251,235, most doing menial jobs such as assembly-line work, food serving and meat packing."

Also, "in 2008, the proportion of those with high skills dropped dramatically to 36.8 while the ranks of menial workers rose to 34.2 percent."

This next paragraph is important. We read "almost 70 per cent of skilled workers arrive from Europe, the U.S. and Australia, while most low-skilled workers come from Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America." Furthermore "the latter group 'face more significant language and cultural challenges than would a worker from the U.S. or U.K.' the study said."

It seems to me the study is suggesting that Canada should favour immigrants from Europe, the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand. Makes sense. Not only do they posses the skills Canadian employers are looking for but assimilating into Canadian society is easier for them. They wouldn't saddle tax payers with the costs of skills training and retraining as well as language classes.

Here is an earlier article relevant to the issue.

With all that said, in comparison to the number of immigrants Canada allows as permanent residents it is apparent more skilled workers enter Canada as temporary foreign workers than as landed immigrants and eventual citizens. According to immigration critic James Bissett of the Fraser Institute less than 20 per cent of immigrants to Canada come as principle applicants, people assessed for pertinent job and language skills. The rest are immediate family members of the principle applicant, wife and children who raise the figure to the official 50 per cent economic class figure, or as refugees and extended family members who do not need relevant job or language skills to enter the country. Neither with the investor class which is nothing more than Canadian citizenship for sale.

Be it temporary foreign workers or permanent residents Canadian society is being flooded with unskilled labour and Toronto alone can attest to that. This should give us pause to consider exactly what our nation's immigration system is really trying to achieve. We know it is grossly inadequate at halting or reversing the aging demographic trend. The bulk of immigrants come from countries that are not known for innovation and technological achievement and of those immigrants the majority do not posses any pertinent job or language skills. Those assessed for skills it difficult to find work in their related field causing us to wonder how valued those skills are to Canadian businesses. It seems not very if low skilled or unskilled temporary foreign workers are what Canadian businesses want more of. That being the case where exactly is this "job growth" that necessitates the mass importation of largely unskilled immigrants from the developing world?


Anonymous said...

As a qualified tradesman for over thirty years- and currently employed in a 'non-skilled' job, (competing directly with immigrant labour), I can tell you that I am watching very closely all of the people who spout this nonsense!)
I call it TREASON!

Anonymous said...

so you think accepting imigrants from war related countries like african muslims and etc is the best way and better for Canadian tradition? Think about it before posting such reports.