There are many challenges associated with migrant work during a normal year, but migrant workers have been hit especially hard by the global coronavirus pandemic. These workers are immigrants who enter Canada every year to work for a short period, typically under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, which enables Canadian companies to hire foreign workers to compensate for temporary labor shortages. The International Mobility Program is another option for companies to hire migrant workers and can be easier to go through since companies don’t need to show a shortage in labor demand. In almost every case though, these workers aren’t planning on staying in Canada permanently but just for a short period of time to work and support their families. Let’s take a look at the five biggest challenges migrant workers are facing in 2021.
Temporary Foreign Worker Permits can be difficult to obtain depending on demand. The highest number granted under this program was in 2009 when 115,938 TWFP were given out, but that number fell to under 50,000 by 2019. With COVID-19, even fewer were granted during 2020. The IMP work permits were also down significantly last year
Once immigrants do obtain a permit and a contract, they travel to Canada to work and very often find that the job they end up doing is very different than the job described, and the benefits associated with it are different as well. If you are thinking of trying to obtain a migrant worker permit or you have received one, make sure you thoroughly look over the employability contract and ask any clarifying questions you have before committing to it.
Since migrant workers are not permanent residents or Canadian citizens, their rights are not the same. It is important to thoroughly look over the benefits associated with the job you are planning on taking before signing the contract to make sure they are fair and adequate. Again, ask clarifying questions before committing to the job and traveling abroad. There are documented cases where migrant workers’ rights haven’t been enforced, and you will be in a better position to seek help if you know what your rights and benefits are before finding yourself in an adverse situation.
The top five countries for migrant workers entering Canada under the Temporary Foreign Work Program are Mexico, Jamaica, Guatemala, the Philippines and India. Under the International Mobility Program, or IMP, which includes post-graduation work permits, the top countries are France, the U.S., China, the U.K., and Brazil. These 10 countries represent a wide variety of languages, religions and customs, and migrant workers are sure to experience culture shock even if they come from a relatively similar country like the U.K.
Beyond culture shock, there is often a negative stigma attached to foreign migrant workers and it can be hard to meet and blend in with local communities. If you are concerned about a language barrier, you can always try to stick with a country that speaks the same language, but there is often anger from locals that migrant workers are “stealing jobs” that are harder to avoid. If you encounter people with this attitude, it’s best to try to stay clear of them. Migrant workers simply take the work that is available, and it’s difficult to convince irrationally angry people that you’re just trying to make a living. Focus on your job and try to enjoy your time in Canada without letting these difficulties interfere too much.
There are a number of rights and regulations that the Canadian government has in place so that migrant workers can carry out their jobs in a safe and comfortable environment. You can access these policies in a number of different languages here. This resource also has an up-to-date list of employers who do not qualify for temporary work permits because they did not keep up their responsibilities as employers under the TFWP or IMP. Government resources like these were created to help migrant workers stay safe, enjoy their work, and have access to their promised benefits. We definitely recommend becoming familiar with these resources and using them, particularly if you are having difficulties.
COVID-19 has changed a lot of things, including the ability to send money home. There are a number of stop-gaps and delays that have been put in place for sending cash abroad, which particularly affects migrant workers who rely on being able to send cash transfers home to support their families. Once you arrive in Canada, we recommend opening a Canadian bank account right away so that you can use an online remittance company like Remitbee to send money home. Banks and companies like ours aren’t affected by these delays.
Migrant workers are already facing the difficulty of being far away from home and their families, and they shouldn’t have to contend with more difficulties than any other Canadian worker. Remitbee was founded by immigrants and we understand a lot of the challenges you are facing. We want to help you navigate the potential obstacles that you are facing or may face helping ensure that your stay in Canada is a positive one. You can create a free account on our app or website today, and our customer service representatives are available to help you and your family members get through this experience.