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Journal article

Who Has Their Eye on the Ball? : Jurisdictional Fútbol and Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program




Jenna Hennebry


A paradigm shift is well underway in Canada with respect to migration, one in which temporary migration rivals permanent migration and where the transition from temporary to permanent status has become the “new normal,” says Jenna Hennebry. Here she discusses some of the changing realities of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program, and asks whether it is a “win-win” policy for both Canada and the sending countries. With particular attention to the impact on development and labour market distortion, she discusses the growing trend toward “two-step” migration, and reflects on the jurisdictional “fútbol” that characterizes this program.

Un changement de paradigme est bel et bien engagé du côté de la politique d’immigration canadienne. C’est ainsi que l’immigration temporaire rivalise désormais avec l’immigration permanente et que le passage du statut temporaire à permanent est devenu la « nouvelle norme », affirme Jenna Hennebry, qui analyse l’évolution du Programme des travailleurs étrangers et se demande s’il repose véritablement sur une politique « gagnant-gagnant » qui profite à la fois au Canada et aux pays d’origine. L’auteure décortique cette tendance vers une immigration « en deux étapes », en prêtant une attention particulière à son impact sur le développement et le marché du travail, tout en examinant le « football » juridictionnel qui caractérise ce programme.

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Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP)

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A recent survey of nearly 600 temporary foreign workers in
agriculture, funded by CERIS Ontario Metropolis Research Centre, found that
92 percent of respondents were married and had an average of three children (p2).

Researchers generally agree that development is more likely to occur if
migrants invest their remittances in agricultural land, machinery, livestock or businesses that have productive capacities. However, they have documented that many migrants use it to purchase food, clothing and medicine; to pay for children’s education; to build or repair their houses; to upgrade household facilities; to acquire foreign-built amenities; and to pay off debts. Research tends to show that the development associated with migration is uneven and depends on
the character of the remittance communities. For example, migrants from rural communities with higher-quality land, better infrastructure and
greater access to markets are more likely to invest their earnings in productive areas. Those from poorer rural areas with weaker infrastructure and poorer-quality land are more likely to spend their remittances on daily household needs (p2).

Research has shown that most temporary migrants in Canada’s seasonal
temporary migration program have participated in the program for
an average of 7 to 9 years, with many participating for over 20 years. Among the migrants surveyed in the CERIS project, 24 percent have come to
Canada for 10 years or more. Clearly for a good number of migrant workers
(notably those from Mexico and Jamaica), migrating to Canada to work
has been far from temporary (p3).

File Attachments


Economic sectors

Agriculture and horticulture workers, Occupations in services - Domestic work, Sales and service occupations - general, Trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations - general, Natural resources, agriculture and related production occupations - general, Labourers in food, beverage and associated products processing, Dancers, and Other

Content types

Policy analysis

Target groups


Geographical focuses

Canada, Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec, British Columbia, Other provinces, Federal, Nova Scotia, and National relevance

Spheres of activity

Journalism, media studies and communication, Law, and Political science