Brock University

Welcome to Canada...Temporarily!: Implications of Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Programs and Policies

As many nation-states encourage their citizens to seek employment abroad or champion for quicker means by which to attract foreign workers, temporary migration has become a prevalent, yet concerning part of the global immigration landscape. In Canada, arrivals of temporary migrants now outpaces arrivals of permanent residents. Temporary migration is an evolving phenomenon, implemented and managed by the federal government to expediently address labour shortages in myriad sectors and localities. Despite being a central part of Canada's immigration system and a periodic subject of media and public debate, temporary migration is often misunderstood. There is a need to better understand the policies and processes that allow it to occur, its impact on individuals, communities, and labour markets, and the experiences of its participants. Sociologists play an important role in addressing this information gap by revealing the implications that temporary migration presents for institutions, social structures, and communities. The goal of this session is to draw attention to the diversity of temporary migration by encouraging papers focused on any of the multiple temporary foreign worker programs in Canada. Temporary migrants are not a homogenous group; they have various skill levels, are entitled to different sets of rights and opportunities, and have diverse experiences and challenges. This session will expand our knowledge of the multifaceted nature of temporary migration and the issues presented by this non-permanent labour market strategy.

Session Organizer: Jill Bucklaschuk, University of Manitoba,


"It's like winning the lottery": Experiences of temporary migrants in Manitoba

Jill Bucklaschuk, University of Manitoba,

In 2002, the Stream for Lower-Skilled Occupations was implemented by the federal government, allowing employers to hire lower-skilled temporary foreign workers in an effort to address labour shortages.  In Manitoba, employers that hire temporary migrants have the added advantage of being located in a province with an active Provincial Nominee Program that allows nominations of foreign workers, contributing to a more permanent labour force.  Most nominations are successful and result in the pursuit of permanent residence and family reunification.

This presentation focuses on the experiences of those migrating to Manitoba via the Stream for Lower-Skilled Occupations as they pursue permanent residency.  The majority of individuals hired through this program face few prospects of immigrating by any other means and view this as a life-changing event equivalent to winning the lottery.  So desperate are they to leave the circumstances in their home country that they accept gruelling work, loneliness, and other challenges as necessary obstacles on their path to permanent residency and the eventual settlement of their families in safe and relatively prosperous Canadian communities.  Such two-step immigration is not without its significant problems, but it represents a rare immigration option for lower-skilled temporary migrants.


Effective Collaboration at the Front-Line: examining the role of civil society organizations in improving the working and living conditions of migrant farm workers in Niagara

Leanne Dixon Perera, University of Ottawa,

The Canadian Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program is regularly criticized for rendering migrant farm workers (MFWs) vulnerable to an array of risks: physical, emotional, and psychological health problems, social exclusion, and isolation. MFWs are often unaware of labour standards and unable to access and exercise their rights in Canada. In recent years, civil society organizations (CSOs) have emerged to mitigate these vulnerabilities; however, little is known concerning how CSOs engage with one another, and how their collaborative work, or lack thereof, impacts the MFW’s experience in Canada. If well-intentioned CSO initiatives are unwilling to recognize other actors, or worse, compete with one another, this could foster an unaccommodating environment for MFWs. With an objective of filling in this gap, this study evaluates CSO activity in the Niagara region of Ontario within the conceptual framework of effective collaboration, and finds that the benefits of effective collaboration outweigh the costs of operating independently. Our findings are drawn from extensive documentary research and interviews with key representatives from relevant CSOs in the field.


Temporary Migration and the Global Integration of Nursing Labour Markets

Salimah Valiani, Centre for the Study of Education and Work, University of Toronto,

Linking growing employer demand for temporary migrant registered nurses to the restructuring of nursing work post-1970, this paper traces historically the increased demand, supply and circulation of temporary migrant nurses internationally. In greater detail, nursing labout process in the USA and Canada will be traced from the 1960s onward to demonstrate how, in different ways, the undervaluing of nursing work led to increased use of temporary migrant nurses by the 1990s in these two countries. Canada and the USA are argued to be global trendsetters as the first countries in the global North to begin employing significant numbers of internationally educated registered nurses on temporary work permits. This paper draws from my research monogram, Rethinking Unequal Exchange: the global integration of nursing labout markets (University of Toronto Press, 2012).



© Canadian Sociological Association ⁄ La Société canadienne de sociologie