Friday, April 29, 2011

Conservatives Bring in Hundreds of Thousands of Unskilled Guest Workers to drive down Wages

The number of guest workers allowed in has exploded since the Conservatives came to power and whereas the typical guest worker was once an American transferred to a branch office in Canada, the fastest growing category of guest worker is now the unskilled type with poor language skills. The Conservatives have not done this directly. They have turned over a greater percentage of the immigration file to the provinces and Western provinces in particular have used the program to undercut labour. The Canadian tax payer has paid through the noise to have cheap labour sent in from other countries for the sole purpose of cutting wages of the Canadian tax payer.

"According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, there were 57,843 temporary foreign workers in Alberta by the end of 2008, a 55 per cent jump from 2007 and more than four times the number residing here five years ago. By contrast, permanent immigration has been relatively stagnant, with fewer than 25,000 immigrants coming to Alberta last year from outside the country, only a few thousand people higher than in 2004.

Alberta is not the only the province to import workers. In raw numbers, Ontario has the highest number at 91,733. B.C. has about the same number as Alberta. Quebec has many fewer at only 26,085."

Forget Conservative talk about such provincial programs bringing in much needed skilled workers, this was the kind of positions Alberta was hoping to fill through its guest worker programs: Front desk clerk, short order cook, baker, maid, assembly line worker, server, buser, bellhop, valet, and cafeteria worker, laundry attendant, pet groomer, general labourer, and hair dresser. All that is required of such would be immigrants is that they score 4 or 24 on the language assessment. In other words, they can still be functionally illiterate and still get it in.

It takes a great deal of chutzpah to Kenney to talk about wanting to avoid “the kind of ethnic enclaves or parallel communities that exist in some European countries” and then go about encouraging the very thing that led to the creation of these communities in Europe, viz., importing gobs of unskilled guest labour. Canada is lucky in so far as most Canadians see new immigrants as one of us. The Conservative policy will change this though. If the situation is allowed to continue, an increasing number of Canadians will see new immigrants, and most people are not going to make the distinction between guest worker and permanent resident, as someone brought in by employers to undercut wages.

Do not take my word for it. Take Sheila Fraser's word for it.

The report notes that Ottawa does not impose any minimum standards on workers selected by the provinces, and calls for these programs to be reviewed.

Provincial auditors-general in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island have all warned that the program is failing to track whether workers brought in by a province actually stay there.

The Auditor-General also reviewed the impact of controversial new powers awarded to Canada's immigration minister that were passed as part of the Conservative government's 2008 budget bill.

“We found that the Department [of Citizenship and Immigration] has made a number of key decisions in recent years without properly assessing their costs and benefits, potential risks, and likely impact on programs,” Ms. Fraser said. “Some of these decisions have caused a significant shift in the types of foreign workers being admitted permanently to Canada. There is little evidence that this shift is part of any well-defined strategy to best meet the needs of the Canadian labour market.”

In her first use of these new powers last year, then-immigration minister Diane Finley dropped the list of eligible occupations for the skilled worker program to 38 from 351.


Anonymous said...

I live in the Ottawa Valley. I have two friends who bring in these workers, overall I'd say about 50 "unskilled guest workers".
They bring them in because they cant find anyone to pick weeds, haul soil, pick strawberrys and blueberrys. Mind you, in the town I live I could find you at least 100 young able bodied men on welfare and social assistance. So, make up your mind as a Liberal, would you, a. refuse these business's the ability to hire "uskilled workers" or b. make young abled bodied men and women work as part of the unemployment and social assistance package. A major reason the LPC is falling to 3rd party status is its refusal to deal heavy handedly with decisions such as these. And remember, these business's need employees now, not in 8 years from now after a blue ribbon round table discusion. So, whats the answer?

GT Longine said...

My company, a contractor, has brought in 24 non-skilled workers. They're skilled tradesmen according to the national standards of their countries of origin, but they have to start from square one in Canada to earn their journeyman ticket. The reason we brought them in (we bought three houses to provide accommodation for them) is because we can't get skilled Canadians to take on the work - there simply aren't enough of them to go around. Add to this that Canadian skilled tradesman in my experience, refuse to do things my company requires, like shaving every day and wearing a clean uniform into people's homes, why shouldn't we promote immigration by bringing in employees from other countries who will adhere to our company policies and who want to work and build a life for themselves?

We're not driving down wages either, so I don't know where you're getting that notion. The guys we brought in are paid the going rate in our market and they have opportunities for spiffs and other bonuses by getting clients involved in repairs a client might not have otherwise been aware of.

There is a MASSIVE skilled labour shortage in Canada. We used to teach the trades in high school but those programs got cut out of the education system in the mid-1990's when governments across Canada were cutting everything to eliminate provincial deficits. Those programs never came back and now, nearly 20 years later, ALL skilled trades are experiencing a shortage of people that makes nursing and doctor shortages seem like a fart in the breeze by comparison.

Your assertion is false: no government in its right mind would develop programs to purposefully drive down wages. That is, quite frankly, an insane assumption and clearly you've never run a business before. When you pay employees a good wage, they work their butts off for you. They stick with your company and they contribute to the economy. Some of our foreign workers who now have permanent residence status have bought homes - a dream they could never have envisioned in the third world countries of their origin. They came to Canada with a bag of clothes each and now they are earning a good wage, bringing their families over, buying homes and building productive lives that benefit not only them, but their families and communities.

Most important - in a lot of cases, these workers are doing jobs that Canadians refuse to do. There might be a high unemployment rate in some regions, but the jobs are there if Canadians born in this country are willing to get their hands dirty.

Koby said...

You do know many guest workers tend to stay.

Indeed, who the hell do you think lives in those "parallel communities" Jason Kenney talked about.

If want you want is more "young able bodied men on welfare and social assistance", then bring on the guest workers. Just look unemployment rates among the Gastarbeiter over the years for example.

So, before you throw your support behind blowing up one of the most successful immigration systems on the planet I would first suggest that you get your head out of your ass an into a book.

Koby said...

"the number of TFWs in professional occupations (where one might reasonably make a skill-gap argument) did not change between 2005 and 2009, while the number of TFWs in the “Elemental and Labourers” occupation group (which, by definition, does not include workers with advanced skills) increased by 400%."

Anonymous said...

And yet, still no answer, but, its not really a surprise. How would you help the many business's out there with labour shortages? Enough with the rhetoric. They need help now.

Gene Rayburn said...

Anonymous 3:57 maybe your friends need to up their shitty wages.

Gene Rayburn said...

" Enough with the rhetoric. They need help now."

Hilarious, commanding an end to rhetoric with rhetoric.