Parliamentary Budget Officer adds note of reason to TFW debate. Time to re-focus on migrant worker needs.

Media Contact:
Syed Hussan, Cell: 416 453 3632, Email:

Toronto — The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, Canada’s largest coalition of migrant worker rights groups, is pleased with the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s (PBO) report released today entitled: Temporary Foreign Workers in Canada: A look at regions and occupational skill which adds a note of reason to debates around Temporary Foreign Workers in Canada.

“This report is resounding evidence that the hysteria around migrant workers stealing jobs from Canadian citizens is misplaced,” says Syed Hussan, Coordinator of MWAC. “In fact, there is a great need for low-skilled migrant workers to come to Canada, lay roots and settle permanently. It’s time to shift the dialogue to ensuring migrant workers are accorded rights to permanent residency by the Federal government as well as simultaneous provincial reforms where migrant workers are provided with equal access to provinicial labour rights and social entitlements The first step to this is ending the unjust 4 and 4 rule that uproots migrant workers who have worked in Canada for four years.

The PBO found:

  • At their peak, Temporary Foreign Workers make up 1.8% of the entire Canadian labour force.
  • Between 2002 and 2013, Canada’s low-skilled workforce declined by 26%
  • While low-skilled citizen workers experienced a large increase in unemployment following the recession, their number was essentially back at its pre-recession low by 2013.
  • Most low-skilled temporary foreign workers are in smaller cities where the number of low-skilled Canadian workers is often lower than the national average.
  • In general, there is insufficient data to show the relationship between foreign workers and labour shortages.

Important background:

  • The reported unemployment rate in Canada is 6.6%
  • At the end of 2013, there were over 1.3 million unemployed Canadian citizens and only 53,953 low-skilled foreign workers in the country.
  • Migrant workers pay all taxes into the system, but are denied full employment insurance, pensions; and access to subsidized housing, post-secondary education, and skills training.