As Canadian employers face the lowest unemployment rate in decades, they’re moving to fill roles with temporary foreign workers (or TFW, for short), per The Globe and Mail.
- In the first three months of 2022, the federal government greenlit ~44,200 positions for employers through the TFW program, the highest number in at least five years.
Why it matters: There are over one million open roles in Canada right now, many of which don’t actually pay enough to attract Canadian workers (which the TFW program aims to fill).
- Farming work was by far the most in-demand, making up ~21,000 of total approvals. Cooks came in second at ~2,100, followed by greenhouse workers at ~1,900.
- Maple Leaf Foods has ramped up its use of the program and Recipe, which owns restaurant chains like Harvey’s and the Keg, is helping its franchisees adopt it.
Zoom out: The federal government updated the TFW program back in April to give companies more access to low-wage workers from abroad to address labour shortages.
Yes, but: Some economists say the move could stop employers from raising wages for domestic workers or making investments that improve productivity across the economy.
- Labour advocates have also voiced concerns about closed permits that tie to one employer, and point to past cases of unpaid wages and unsafe living conditions.
Big picture: To hire through the TFW program, employers have to prove that not a single soul in Canada wants to do the work, but there’s a fine line between providing opportunities to foreign workers and over-indexing on crummy jobs because it’s the easier option.