There are nearly twice as many temporary foreign workers in Alberta now as there were at the height of the economic boom.
Newly-released figures from Citizenship and Immigration Canada show that on Dec. 1, 2009, there were 69,000 foreign workers in the province, compared to only 35,000 in 2006.
Alberta’s unemployment rate currently sits at 6.6%.
“It doesn’t make sense,” said Terry Andriuk, head of the temporary foreign worker program at Edmonton’s Mennonite Centre for Newcomers.
The head of the Alberta Federation of Labour calls it a “lose-lose situation.”
It’s been a bad deal for the foreigners, says Gil McGowan, because many are forced to work in poor conditions for low pay that no Canadian would accept. Meanwhile, he says, Canadian workers suffer because the steady supply of foreigners allows employers to keep wages low.
Though the report focuses on Alberta the phenomenon is national. Canada is importing more temporary foreign workers than it is permanent residents and even the permanent resident numbers are far too high. Combined one can easily speculate the damage being done to Canadian living standards, especially those of the most vulnerable of Canadian citizens, by making it all the more difficult earn a livable income.
Given the uncertain economic environment we are in and the growth of precarious work we have to ask ourselves why there is a heavy reliance on temporary foreign workers. We also have to ask what the Canadian Labour Congress is doing about it. If Canada's strongest labour unions are about protecting Canadian jobs then why are they silent about Canada's immigration policy which floods the job market with cheap, disposable, superfluous labour?