Ottawa set to enforce four-year limit on temporary foreign workers

posted on March 20, 2015

By Peter O’Neil, Vancouver Sun | Link to Article 

By Peter O’Neil, Vancouver Sun | Link to Article 

The Harper government is poised to enforce an exodus of temporary foreign workers as experts warn that some of those facing a deadline starting on April 1 will refuse to leave and instead enter the underground economy.

The deadline, denounced as “racist” and unfair by advocacy groups this week, is the result of Ottawa imposing a four-year limit on its controversial temporary foreign workers program on April 1, 2011.

The group Justice for Migrant Workers estimated the deadline will affect 70,000 low-wage workers, but the government is refusing to say how many will have to leave.

The deadline treats temporary workers as “disposable and expendable,” Justice for Migrant Workers spokesman Chris Ramsaroop said in a statement this week. “Conservative policies deny the contributions that migrant workers have made toward building our communities. … We need to revoke this racist policy.”

Federal spokesman Remi Lariviere said the four-year maximum was intended to give migrants an opportunity to seek permanent residence “rather than using work permits to remain in Canada indefinitely.”

Those who go home can apply again under the program in four years, though rules were changed last year to make it harder and more expensive for employers to rely on this tool.

Lariviere said the Canada Border Services Agency will take “the appropriate action” to remove anyone who ignores the order.

The temporary foreign workers program has four streams — higher- and lower-skilled workers, agricultural workers and live-in caregivers.

The four-year limit provided exceptions for managers and professionals, and for workers who have received a positive assessment for their permanent residence applications. As a result live-in caregivers, who typically seek permanent residency status after working two years as a caregiver, are unlikely to be affected.

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