Temporary Resident Streams in Canada

The tremendous growth that has occurred in temporary migration – chiefly in foreign workers and international students – represents a significant departure from Canada’s tradition of selecting and admitting newcomers as permanent residents. Multiple forces are at play. On the educational front, universities, provincial education ministries and the federal government have become aware of a lucrative new revenue stream based on marketing Canadian colleges and universities abroad; at the same time, students and their families have moved to capitalize on the favourable treatment that students receive within Canada’s immigrant selection system, providing an alternative pathway to permanent entry.  On the temporary foreign worker front, changes in the pattern and location of Canadian economic activity, coupled with processing impediments within the (former) immigration system, led to the emergence of a significant temporary foreign worker movement that served as an alternative pathway for addressing labour market demands for both low and high skilled workers.  This movement has now been reined in; however, there have been frequent policy ‘corrections’ since the initial edict and further change appears likely.

Notwithstanding the fact that the main focus has been on skilled and semi-skilled work, there is a continuing need for low skilled agricultural and other workers in sectors where domestic recruitment is not viable. The scale and recurrent nature of this intake has raised questions about the impact of low skilled workers on the areas where they reside, shop and live.

Potential research topics include the following:

  • Impact of initial entry as an international student on subsequent economic, social, and civic outcomes (upon achieving permanent residency), as well as the effect on feelings of belonging and citizenship aspirations
  • Effect of changes to the temporary foreign worker program on provincial nominee flows, the pattern of migrant transitions from temporary to permanent status, and applicant uptake under the Express Entry system
  • Economic and integration trajectories followed by caregivers once landed in Canada; and the implications of these trajectories for the caregiver ‘industry’ and the supports that caregivers require
  • Adjustment measures that are currently available and consumed by temporary residents upon transitioning from temporary to permanent status; and the critical service gaps that exist for different temporary groups across the country
  • Impact of temporary agricultural foreign workers (TAFW) and other low skilled workers (who may or may not have the possibility of becoming permanent residents) on the areas where they are being hired, notably rural areas and nearby, small cities