'We have gotten addicted to temporary foreign workers'

Immigration minister calls for end to Canada's reliance on foreign labour

'We have gotten addicted to temporary foreign workers'

Immigration Minister Marc Miller is looking to lower Canada’s dependence on temporary foreign labour and internation students.

“We have gotten addicted to temporary foreign workers,” said Miller, as reported in an article by Bloomberg.

The immigration minister had introduced a limit on foreign student visas in the previous month and it set to make further changes soon, which will restrict students’ off-campus work hours as well as reviewing the temporary foreign worker program.

Surge in foreign students, temporary workers

The surge of foreign students and temporary workers have played a part in the uptick of housing costs, which the federal government received criticisms for. With the country struggling to keep up with the added number of temporary residents who aimed to work in farms and factories or study while also working, soaring rents and house prices were felt all over Canada, according to the article.

Miller has also removed the policy that allowed spouses of foreign students to get work permits, as well as imposing new restrictions on work permits that were made available after graduation.

He is set to make changes on the temporary measure that allowed students to have 40 hours of work per week off campus, likely allowing more than 20 hours but less than 40.

International students needed for retail

However, the Retail Council of Canada wanted to have a permanent regulation that allowed 30 hours of work per week while classes are ongoing.

For international students, retail can provide a way to supplement their incomes, enhance language skills, and provide useful employment skills – everything from front-line retail and customer service, to logistics and supply chain,” spokeswoman Michelle Wasylyshen told Bloomberg.

Miller will also be working with Employment Minister Randy Boissonnault when it comes to reviewing the temporary foreign worker program that allowed firms to bring in employees from abroad with time-limited visas.

“I will have to be a little more surgical than I have in prior steps I’ve taken,” said Miller. “There are consequences to taking a decision that would limit that flow of people for businesses, for the economy.”

The Bloomberg article noted that Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) President Dan Kelly believed that the moves being made by the government seemed to be born from panic as they did not seem to think about the effects of such changes to smaller and rural communities relying on migrants to work and buy goods and services.

“I worry that we may be scapegoating the temporary foreign worker program and the international student program to too great a degree and thinking that this is some big panacea or big fix,” said Kelly.

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