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Journal article

Migrant Workers and the Problem of Social Cohesion in Canada




Alison Taylor and Jason Foster


This paper explores the Canadian Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) drawing on the concept of “social cohesion,” a concept that was prominent in federal political discourse in the late 1990s. Social cohesion has value in highlighting the social impacts of shifts in policy at individual, group, and societal levels. Our case studies of temporary foreign workers in nursing and trades in Alberta suggest that the TFWP encourages low trust and sense of belonging among migrant workers and resistance from domestic workers because it promotes inequality and exclusion. The inability of most migrant workers to access settlement services, to bring families, to change employers, or to enroll in further education and training overtly discourages their integration into the local community. The TFWP also impacts the domestic workforce and citizenry by creating a new class of workers and non-citizens without the same rights. The dynamics observed at a workplace level predictably impact local communities and Canadian society overall as patterns of diversity are destabilized, values of fairness and equal opportunity are challenged, and norms of reciprocity are weakened.

Journal title

Journal of International Migration and Integration


March 2014


Economic sectors

Agriculture and horticulture workers and General relevance - all sectors

Content types

Policy analysis

Geographical focuses

National relevance

Spheres of activity

Law and Political science