Temporary foreign workers on the rise: StatsCan

They work in a variety of occupations but earn less than Canadian-born and permanent-resident workers
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 09/23/2010

The number of temporary foreign workers in Canada has more than doubled since 1996, according to Statistics Canada.

In 2006 there were 230,000 non-permanent residents aged 15 and over in Canada. Of these, more than 112,000 were working in Canada, an increase of 118 per cent from 1996, found the study Foreign Nationals Working Temporarily in Canada.

About 84 per cent of them worked full time, representing about one per cent of all full-time workers in Canada. Full-time workers are the fastest growing segment of the temporary resident population.

This increase seems to have continued after the 2006 census with Citizenship and Immigration Canada data showing the number of non-permanent residents who entered Canada in 2008 (399,523) exceeded the number of permanent immigrants (247,243).

The increase in the number non-permanent residents working in Canada may be a result of increased labour market requirements during the economic expansion, which ended in the latter part of 2008, stated Foreign Nationals Working Temporarily in Canada.

Most temporary foreign workers, who worked full time, came from South East Asia, East Asia and Western Europe in 2006. While many permanent residents also come from Asia, the countries of origin are different.

While the Peoples Republic of China and India were the top two source countries for Canada’s permanent immigrants, the Philippines supplied the greatest number of non-permanent residents who worked in Canada.

Non-permanent residents working in Canada can be found in both unskilled and highly skilled occupations. Women are most often found in caregiving and domestic work. In 2006, most women in these occupations were from the Philippines. Men, especially those from Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, were more often employed in the agricultural industry.

On the other hand, temporary workers from high-GDP economies, such as the United States and Europe, were more likely to be working as university professors, post-secondary teaching and research assistants, computer programmers and senior managers.

On average, temporary foreign workers earned less than Canadian-born workers and established immigrants. However, the average weekly earnings of non-permanent residents working full time exceeded those of more recent immigrants (those who landed between 2000 and 2005).

This may be because a larger proportion of non-permanent residents are recruited to fill specific vacancies, while permanent migrants may take time to find employment. Once established however, permanent immigrants outperform non-permanent residents in terms of earnings.

However, non-permanent residents working full time are found at both ends of the income continuum. For example, about five per cent of non-permanent residents earned $3,000 dollars or more per week in 2005, compared to 2.5 per cent of the Canadian-born, 2.7 per cent of established immigrants and 1.4 per cent of new immigrants.

At the same time, 46 per cent of non-permanent residents who worked full time earned less than $500 per week, compared to 23 per cent of the Canadian-born, 25 per cent of established immigrants and 42 per cent of new immigrant workers.

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