Placing a limit of four years on temporary foreign workers’ stay in Canada does more harm than good, says a new IRPP study.
In addition to forcing some vulnerable workers underground, the policy jeopardizes successful transition to permanent residence for those who qualify.
“This rule places pressure on migrant worker protection and leaves room for abuse, especially for those workers who hold employer-specific work permits,” say Delphine Nakache and Leanne Dixon-Perera.
They demonstrate that an increasing number of foreign workers are becoming permanent residents through the federal Canadian Experience Class and provincial and territorial nominee programs. “We need policies that will facilitate their transition rather than complicate it,” they say.
The “four-in, four-out” rule limits migrant workers’ employment in Canada to four years; however they may return after spending four years in their home country. Although the rule has encouraged many workers to become permanent residents, the authors, who carried out qualitative research with 99 participants, find that it has made the process much more difficult.
Workers transitioning to permanent residence also face challenging language proficiency requirements and other stringent rules associated with employer sponsorship. In addition, prolonged family separation during the transition has negative impacts, including family breakdown, for workers who have to leave their spouses and children in their home country.
To help remedy these difficulties, Nakache and Dixon-Perera recommend that governments:
• Provide language training for migrant workers upon arrival and set different benchmarks for differently skilled migrant workers.
• Facilitate migrant workers’ access to other settlement and legal services prior to their becoming permanent residents.
• Extend the right to family accompaniment to migrant workers in low-skilled positions.
Posted: Dec 1, 2015
They also put forward two policy ideas for further study and discussion: reconsidering the reliance on employer sponsorship, and facilitating a federal pathway to permanent residence for workers in low-skilled occupations.