Canadians for a Sustainable Society deals mainly with the structural issues that influence our national health. However, the Temporary Foreign Workers Program hits on so many of the misguided policies which are leading the country on a downward spiral that we felt we had to address this program specifically.
The reasons for creating a very limited TFW program are justifiable but the breadth and size of the program has wildly exceeded any responsible parameters.
From 2006 to 2012, there have been 1.3 million new jobs created in Canada of which 980,000 were full time. In that same period, the number of temporary foreign workers has risen 270,000 from 220,000 to 490,000 which represents 28% of the total number of new jobs created in the country. More importantly it represented almost 40% of the new full-time jobs created in the country.
The increase in the number of Temporary Foreign Workers was more than 80% higher than the total number of new full-time jobs created for Canadian workers up to the age of 29.
If unemployment was at an all-time low and real wages were increasing and debt was going down, the number of TFWs in the country would not be a burning question. However, unemployment and underemployment are very high, particularly among young people. In Ontario, the percentage of people working minimum wage jobs has gone up 500% in the past 17 years. Personal debt has also gone up 500% since the 1960s while real wages have basically flat-lined.
From the perspective of human welfare or fiscal sustainability, this is not the environment one would choose to expand with a large numbers of TFWs. But policy makers have done exactly that. It is incredible that in a very poor labour market, people charged with the responsibility of improving Canadian well-being and maintaining fiscal balance would allow and even promote the displacement of Canadians by cheaper foreign workers.