Report highlights growing role of temporary foreign workers

Published on May 21, 2014
Temporary foreign workers statistics

The number of temporary foreign workers in Newfoundland and Labrador has more than doubled between 2005 and 2012, according to a report released today by the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council (APEC).

The number in this province as of Dec. 1, 2005 was 936, according to the report. Seven years later, it was 2,551.

The report says throughout the Atlantic region, the number of temporary foreign workers increased threefold during the same period to reach 10,900 workers in December 2012. The largest increases have been in lower paying, lower skill occupations such as fish plant and food service workers.

"Despite the rapid growth in the number of temporary foreign workers in Atlantic Canada, they account for only a tiny fraction of total employment in Atlantic Canada," said APEC Senior Economist David Chaundy."In 2012, temporary foreign workers represented one per cent of total employment in the Atlantic region, compared with 1.9 per cent nationally."   

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program allows Canadian employers to hire foreign nationals to fill temporary labour and skill shortages when qualified Canadian citizens or permanent residents are not available. The program covers a number of categories of temporary international workers including those directly approved under the program, their spouses, international students who have completed their studies and are eligible to work for up to three years, other young people seeking work experience in Canada, as well as seasonal agricultural workers and live-in caregivers.

In April, federal Employment Minister Jason Kenny announced a ban on the hiring of temporary foreign workers in restaurants because of concerns about the program being abused. He said a review would be carried out before any decision made to lift the ban.

St. John's City Council debated the issue Tuesday night and is calling on Ottawa to lift the ban.

Quebec has also asked the federal government to reverse its decision.

Thursday's Telegram will contain more coverage on the APEC report.