The federal government has introduced changes to rules governing temporary foreign workers, speeding up the process, and allowing these workers to be paid less.
Working with a number of partners, the Wellesley Institute put forward a suite of policies to support the creation of good jobs Ontario. Better protection for migrant workers was a big piece of that project.
The rapid growth of migrant worker programs has resulted in the expansion of a workforce in Canada that is considered cheap and disposable. Migrant workers have fewer rights than other Canadian workers and they often work in industries that are exempt from protections and rights under the Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act.
Armine Yalnizyan was on Metro Morning on May 1st talking about the impact these changes will have on inequality. Tom Walkom wrote in the Toronto Star about the impact on the labour market, saying that it will drive wages down for everyone. He says “it is a solution that threatens to bring with it the kind of agitation now seen in countries like France, Holland and Greece — where the racist right is on the rise and where far too many workers view immigrants as mortal enemies out to steal their jobs.”
There are clear links between labour market policies, employment and working conditions, and health inequities. Increasing precarious employment for migrant workers increases the risk of occupational injuries, diseases, death, social exclusion, lack of health and safety training, fear of reprisal for demanding better working conditions, linguistic and cultural barriers that minimize the effectiveness of training, and difficulty accessing care and compensation when injured.
Temporary foreign workers should enjoy the same rights and protections as other workers in Canada. Taking a two-tiered approach will have long-term impacts on the health of migrant workers and other vulnerable workers in Canada.
Listen to Armine Yalnizyan on Metro Morning
Watch this piece on Global about disposable labour
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