Part of the project on Ethics of Migration.

Workshop Description

  • Canada is, and has always been, a country of immigration.  Until recently, migrant workers were mainly admitted to permanent residence in Canada if they could satisfy the “points” requirements as delineated in the Federal Skilled Workers Program (FSWP).  The program however has been criticized from multiple directions, for being slow to process applications, and therefore slow to respond to labour market shortages in Canada.  In response, the Canadian government has chosen to expand the number of temporary foreign labour migration opportunities in Canada.  Migrants admitted to participate in these programs are not permitted to apply immediately for permanent residency (whereas migrants admitted as part of the FSWP are granted permanent residency immediately), and in some cases they are not permitted to apply at all.  As the government has expanded these programs, predictably, the number of temporary migrants labouring in Canada has increased – in 2008, for the first time, the number of admitted temporary migrants labouring in Canada was higher than the number of admitted permanent residents applying under other categories, like family reunification.  Moreover, the Canadian government has made it clear that it plans to continue expanding the number of temporary migrants labouring in Canada.  In particular, the opportunities for low-skilled workers to labour, temporarily, in Canada are increasing; whereas immigration to Canada has historically emphasized attracting high-skilled and educated migrants, the newest programs invite low-skilled migrants, from developing nations, to labour in Canada on a temporary basis.
  • This workshop will invite contributors to critically assess the present implementation and operationalisation of temporary foreign labour migration programs in Canada, in particular those that target low-skilled migrants.  These programs are: the Seasonal Agricultural Workers’ Program, the Live-in Caregiver Program, the Low Skilled Pilot Project, and some Provincial and Territorial Nominee Programs.  Low-skilled migrants (in contrast to those who participate in programs for high-skilled workers) are not permitted to travel with their families, they are often not permitted to apply for citizenship, and they are more frequently the victims of abuse and exploitation.  The worry is that the increasing Canadian reliance on temporary foreign labour migrants, who hail from developing nations, is producing two tiers of immigrants (those who are desirable as citizens and those who are not) as well as two tiers of membership (those who are full members and those who are not).
  • Invited contributors will participate in a one-day policy-focused workshop at the University of Ottawa in 2011, where they will be asked to discuss concrete policy changes to these programs.  The goal is to promote discussion among academics who focus their research on these programs, policy-makers who are involved in structuring and running these programs, and leaders of migrant rights organizations who focus on protecting the rights of temporary migrants in Canada.