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Profiting from the Precarious - How recruitment practices exploit migrant workers

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Metcalf Foundation et Fay Faraday


There are over 338,000 migrant workers in Canada. This number has more than doubled since 2006. As Canada increasingly relies on a work force of transnational migrant workers with temporary status, an industry of third-party for-profit recruiters has emerged to match workers with jobs in Canada.

Profiting from the Precarious: How recruitment practices exploit migrant workers exposes how temporary foreign workers are paying thousands of dollars in recruiting fees — equal to as much as two to three years’ wages in their home currency — to work in minimum wage jobs in Ontario.

Even though a 2009 Ontario law prohibits recruitment fees for live-in caregivers, two-thirds of them have paid fees since the law took effect. Nearly one in five arrives to find the job they were promised does not exist yet they remain indebted to informal money lenders. Meanwhile migrant workers in other “lower skilled” jobs and in agriculture are completely unprotected by the law and are targeted by similar predatory practices.

Profiting from the Precarious examines migrant workers’ experiences of recruitment and analyses whether the existing legal model can adequately protect low-wage migrant workers against recruitment abuse.

The report draws on in-depth interviews with low-wage migrant workers in the Greater Toronto Area and southern Ontario, and community organizers in Canada and abroad. Faraday maps out migrant workers’ experiences of recruitment and analyses how abusive recruitment practices resonate throughout a worker’s labour migration cycle. She demonstrates how our complaint-based laws fail to provide effective protection or enable workers to enforce their rights.


For media inquiries, please contact:
Anne-Marie Flanagan, Flanagan & Associates
(416) 735-3690, amflan@sympatico.ca

Adriana Beemans, Metcalf Foundation
(647) 969-0297, abeemans@metcalffoundation.com

Media Release

New Ontario bill to protect migrants is doomed: Study
The Toronto Star, Nicholas Keung
April 9, 2014

Ontario laws failing to prevent migrant workers from exploitation, abuse
Kevin Newman Live, Jordan Chittley
April 9, 2014

Nanny Recruitment Fees
CBC Radio, Metro Morning, Host Matt Galloway interviews report author Fay Faraday
April 9, 2014

Recruiters charging foreign workers in Ontario illegal fees as high as $12,000 for jobs that might not exist, report finds
Financial Post, Rachel Browne
April 10, 2014

Help wanted: Ontario's temporary foreign workers and the need for answers
Rabble.ca, Kaylie Tiessen
April 9, 2014

Launch Event
Please join us on Tuesday, April 8, at 2:00pm, at the Toronto Reference Library, for the launch of Profiting from the Precarious. Fay Faraday will present her findings along with recommendations for how we can close the vast and disturbing gap between the current law’s promise of protection, and the reality of ongoing exploitation. Panelists from the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change will share their lived experience and provide insight regarding policy recommendations. There will also be an opportunity for a Q&A.

This is a free event, but as space is limited please RSVP at

Number of pages


Institution responsable

Metcalf Foundation

Fichiers joints


Secteurs économiques

General relevance - all sectors

Groupes cibles

Chercheurs et ONG/groupes communautaires/réseaux de solidarité

Pertinence géographique

Canada, Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec, Colombie-Britannique, Autres provinces, Fédéral, Nouvelle-Écosse et National relevance