New Immigration Policies Set to Deport Thousands

goodbye signA new and heavy-impacting federal government immigration policy dubbed as “4 and 4”, is set to come into force from the 1st of April 2015. It will in effect cause the largest deportation of Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) in Canada’s history.

The policy came to be dubbed as “4 and 4” as it deals with the deportation of TFWs who have been working in Canada for more than four years and they will be barred for a further four years from working in Canada. They can only reapply for a work permit after those four years. According to the previous policy, a TFW could continue to work for his employee while his reapplication was in process.

The Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has said that the eligibility of reapplying includes that the applicant would have to spend four consecutive years outside Canada or as a non-working visitor or student in Canada. But the new Express Entry system would mean that most of the TFWs who face deportation under the “4 and 4” policy may never be able to reapply as they would not be able to meet with the criteria to enter the pool.

A Parliamentary Budget Office Study

A study conducted by the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) has found that most of the workers who are facing deportation are employed in the fishing and agricultural industries or in restaurants and shops, or as nannies and babysitters, doing low-paying jobs.

The Conservative government had introduced new rules in June 2014 to limit the number of TFWs a company can hire. But under the new rules, employers would be barred from hiring low-wage TFWs in places where there is an unemployment rate of over 6%. It also limits the maximum number of TFWs that can be hired, at 10%.

This policy was based on reports that TFWs were taking away jobs from local residents as multi-national companies were planning to replace local workers with TFWs for lower wages. Employment Minister Jason Kenney had even twitted that “over-reliance on low-skilled TFWs in certain sectors & regions have caused discrete labour market distortions.”

But the PBO study found that there was hardly any evidence for such claims. The number of TFWs in Canada between 2002 -2012 rose from 101,098 to 338,221. But that does not mean an increase in the ratio of TFWs as against the local workers because in 2012 the TFWs only made up to 1.8% of the total work force.

Case of a Young Couple Facing Deportation

Democrat Mable Elmore of Vancouver-Kensington province, referring to a case of a young couple with a two year old son facing deportation, has asked the labour minister to intervene saying that its unfair that they are being deported based on certain technicalities as the couple had not broken any rules and that they have worked hard.

Labour Minister Shirley Bond, who is not directly involved in any selection process, said she wouldn’t like to comment on specific nominee applications but said that rejected applicants have the option of reapplying.

An email statement from her office stated: “All workers, regardless of their immigration status, have the same rights and protections in B.C. This includes protection under B.C.’s labour laws, employment standards, minimum wage and workplace safety standards.”

Migrant Workers Alliance Petition

A petition by the Migrant Workers Alliance (MWA) seeks to urge the federal government to abandon the “4 and 4” policy. They suggest that the government provide TFWs with permanent residency and access to other social benefits as in the present situation they are treated as second class citizens.

MWA is organising various protests against this mass deportation which they say would affect more than 62,000 workers presently in Canada. They seek a moratorium on the new regulations so that workers can continue to work till they gain their permanent residency.

In his letter to the Conservative MPs on 27th Jan 2015, Minister Jason has stated that the CIC is providing a bridge-over period to those TFWs who have applied for their immigration status but would be affected by the new rule. But this provision is only applicable to those workers who have applied with the Alberta Immigration Nominee Program before 1st of July 2014, holding Work Permits that would expire in 2015.