Business council study finds “stock” of temporary foreign workers rising as terms of stay extend

As interest and concern rise about BC’s growing reliance on temporary foreign workers, this new research paper by the BC Business Council reveals an important fact: the number of “temporary” foreign workers in the province now exceeds the number permitted to arrive in a given year because the terms of stay are now longer.

With the extension of permits to two years for some lower-skilled categories, BCBC found, “the stock of temporary workers has expanded so that there are now 100,000 more TFWs residing in Canada than are permitted to enter each year. . .

“The stock of foreign workers in BC now sits at around around 70,000.” At least half of those reside in Greater Vancouver and the majority in Vancouver itself.

From the city’s perspective, this means a growing population of workers needing services and support, a matter Mayor Gregor Robertson’s Working Group on Immigration has been assessing.

Only abut 15 percent of BC’s temporary workers in 2008 were in the managerial and professional categories. The rest were skilled and technical, intermediate or unskilled. For a surprising 43.7 percent, the skill level was “not stated.”

Despite the economic downturn, BCBC expects demand for TFWs to continue, especially in the regions. “The program is driven by employer demand, and is designed to fill identified labour shortages where no suitable Canadian workers or permanent residents are available (or prepared to do the work available).”