Canada issued 192,519 visas to temporary foreign workers in 2008, up from 113,000 in 2004. Newly arrived migrants included 25,063 farm workers, up from 7,188 in 1980, and 12,864 nannies and home-care workers, up from 2,614 in 1980.
Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act of 2002 changed the philosophy of temporary foreign worker programs to admit them if they had positive overall effects on Canada instead of focusing on their potential adverse effects on Canadian workers. In November 2008, Human Resources Development Canada further liberalized employer access to temporary foreign workers by reducing required recruitment efforts in labor-short “occupations under pressure.”
The Maytree Foundation reported in August 2009 that the surge in temporary workers was slowing the processing of skilled immigrants, thus reducing the inflow of skills to Canada. Many of those admitted under the temporary programs to fill low-skill jobs such as meatpacker hope to be nominated by their employers and provincial governments to become immigrants. Temporary foreign workers who are laid off can stay in Canada until their work permits run out, often two years, although they are generally not eligible for employment insurance.
In 2008, the number of temporary workers and foreign students admitted to Canada, 272,520, exceeded the number of immigrants admitted, 247,202.