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The true north strong and free: Capitalist restructuring and non-immigrant employment in Canada, 1973-1993

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Nandita Rani Sharma


The present study examines the relationship between international capitalist restructuring and the continued existence and actual expansion of unfree forms of labour power for the years 1973 through 1993. It is argued that while this period has been marked by heightened capital mobility, the international movement of labour has not been made redundant. Instead, the mobility of labour has gained added significance as individual nation-states compete for capital investment through attempts to weaken and cheapen the labour supply in their territories. It is maintained that Canadian immigration policy acts, in part, as a filter between the world market for labour power, the structure of the Canadian labour market and the competitive capabilities of capital operating within the country. It is seen that workers who form the international migration of labour face increasing restraints upon the sale of their labour power. In Canada these restrictions are embodied within the Non-Immigrant Employment Authorization Program implemented in 1973. This program represents the creation of unfree labour by the state, since through legal restrictions foreign workers are admitted on the condition that they work for a particular employer, within a particular occupation and for a particular period of time after which they are forced to leave Canada. To contextualize the use of unfree foreign labour power in Canada, other labour market tools of the state are examined. It is seen that the terms of employment and working conditions of workers forced to work in conditions of unfreedom comprises a model which capital is currently using to re-shape the Canadian labour force in an attempt to become globally competitive. Data for the study are taken from a refinement of previously published information as well as hitherto unpublished statistics on records of temporary employment authorizations. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

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Simon Fraser University (Canada)

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Economic sectors

General relevance - all sectors

Content types

Policy analysis

Target groups

Policymakers, Journalists, Public awareness, Researchers, Unions, and NGOs/community groups/solidarity networks

Geographical focuses

National relevance

Spheres of activity

Cultural and ethnic studies, History, Journalism, media studies and communication, Law, Political science, and Sociology