There has been a lot of sound and fury of late about the Temporary Foreign Workers Program. Terry Glavin writes that the program was set up in 1974 to ease bottlenecks in the labour markets.
But, in 2002, the Chretien government instituted the "Pilot Project for Hiring Foreign Workers in Occupations that Require Lower Levels of Formal Training." That is when the train went off the rails. And, under Stephen Harper, the Pilot Project became official government policy:
Just how many guest workers are we talking about anyway? The numbers appear to be far, far larger than is generally understood.
There were 338,000 people in Canada at the sufferance of the Temporary Foreign Workers program at the beginning of last year. When you add in other non-citizens working or at least entitled to work, including farm labourers, nannies, foreign students, “Experience Canada” exchange students and so on, you’ll find that you’re looking at more than 600,000 people whose subservience and obsequiousness is disciplined on pain of deportation.
This is a number of people that exceeds the size of the entire labour force of Saskatchewan, and its existence inside Canada’s already underemployed working class will have implications that should not require an economics degree to comprehend. The C.D. Howe Institute study that caused such a hubbub last week found that in Alberta and British Columbia, an influx of temporary workers between 2007 and 2010 was the cause of an acceleration in unemployment rates of about 3.9 percentage points.
We now have "a federally administered, quasi-privatized national program that artificially suppresses their wages by providing employers with strategic and routine access to a massive pool of cheap, captive labour"
And "captive" is the right word. These workers constantly labour under the threat of deportation. The program is tailor made to serve the needs of the emerging Canadian oligarchy. The government is now engaged in labour racketeering.
Something to think about on Mayday -- International Workers Day.