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Help wanted: Ontario's temporary foreign workers and the need for answers




Kaylie Tiessen


Temporary foreign workers seem to be top of mind for many today. In a CBC news article posted this morning, the CFIB claimed that temporary foreign workers have a better work ethic than their Canadian counterparts. And yesterday, CBC reported that McDonald’s has been bringing in temporary foreign workers to fill new vacancies.

At the same time, new research from the Metcalf Foundation points out that migrant worker recruitment is big business – for profit companies are making big money matching migrant workers with precarious jobs.

Ontario’s labour market has gone through a dramatic change since the turn of the century. The use of temporary foreign workers in the province is no exception.

In 2003, there were about 53,000 temporary foreign workers in Ontario[i]. By 2012, that number had more than doubled to 120,000 – a dramatic increase from 0.9% of the province’s total work force in 2003 to 1.7% in 2012.

The number of temporary foreign workers in Toronto alone more than tripled between 2003 and 2012: rising from 19,000 to 64,000.

This is not just an urban phenomenon: the number of temporary foreign workers working in non-urban areas in Ontario has seen a 50% increase (from 26,000 in 2003 to 39,000 in 2012).

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