Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program under review

CIC News
Published: May 26, 2009

In recent years, Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) has been opened up to make it easier for Canadian employers to hire foreign workers to fill labour shortages in their growing businesses.  As a result, the annual number of foreign workers coming to Canada has skyrocketed over the past few years, and a growing proportion of them are unskilled.  Foreign worker advocates are now calling for a review of the program to better protect foreign worker rights and to explore avenues to allow them to transition to Canadian Permanent Residents.

Both federal and provincial governments have recognized the need for reforms to Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program.  Reports of recommendations have been published and are currently being reviewed by program coordinators.

In Alberta, where the number of foreign workers ballooned in the province to nearly 60,000 in December 2008 up from just under 40,000 a year earlier, the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) has been taking measures to better protect foreign worker rights.  In December 2007, the AFL established an advisory office and helpline for temporary foreign worker complaints and concerns.  It also conducts worksite audits to ensure that Alberta employers are compliant with provincial labour standards.

The AFL recently released a report calling for "the immediate end to the TFWP in its current form" and for the creation of mechanisms to offer Canadian Permanent Residency to all temporary foreign workers currently in Canada.

Additionally, a Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee report on illegal and temporary foreign workers has recently been tabled in the House of Commons, offering dozens of recommendations to improve the TFWP.

The recommendations include getting rid of a current rule that ties work permits to a specific Canadian employer along with improved measures to protect workers from unscrupulous recruitment agencies and employers.

"I rather suspect that a goodly number of their recommendations will find their way into law when the government implements changes to the program," stated a spokesperson for Canada's Immigration Minister, Jason Kenney.  "The Minister is currently consulting with cultural communities and employers on how to improve the temporary foreign worker program as well as the live-in caregiver program to better protect foreign workers, with a view to implementing tougher regulations in the upcoming months."

Last month, Manitoba introduced a new Worker Recruitment and Protection Act to address certain issues faced by temporary foreign workers in the province.  The Act requires that all foreign worker recruitment agencies be registered and licensed by the province and prohibits recruitment agencies from charging fees to foreign workers.  Manitoba has also implemented an improved regulatory system, requiring both employers and recruitment agencies to submit detailed records about the place of employment, the workers' duties and wages, and up-to-date contact information for the temporary foreign workers.

Foreign worker advocates are calling for similar legislation across the country.

While these reports and recommendations are being reviewed, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is currently running an awareness campaign to inform temporary foreign workers and potential Canadian immigrants about how to protect themselves from dishonest and unethical immigration consultants and representatives.

Share this article
Share your voice
Did you find this article helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.
Subscribe to our newsletter
Did you find this article helpful?
Please provide a response
Thank you for your helpful feedback
Please contact us if you would like to share additional feedback, have a question, or would like Canadian immigration assistance.
  • Do you need Canadian immigration assistance? Contact the Contact Cohen Immigration Law firm by completing our form
  • Send us your feedback or your non-legal assistance questions by emailing us at
Top Stories
Budget 2024: How will it impact Canadian immigration?
10 frequently asked questions by visitors to Canada
Comparing rental costs across Canada
Join our free newsletter. Get Canada's top immigration stories delivered to your inbox.
More in Canada
Budget 2024: How will it impact Canadian immigration?
Canada has released Budget 2024.
Comparing rental costs across Canada
A for rent sign infront of a small house
What can newcomers expect from Budget 2024?
Budget 2024 will contain several new initiatives to help with housing affordability in Canada.
I am a Canadian permanent resident, how long do I actually need to stay in Canada?
Calgary skyline
Link copied to clipboard