Canadian Manufacturing

Number of foreign workers in Canada tripled between 2002 to 2012, says PBO

The PBO report says 85 per cent of the foreign workers in low-skilled positions were in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario



OTTAWA—The Parliamentary Budget Officer says in a new report that the number of foreign workers in Canada tripled between 2002 and 2012—although they still made up fewer than two per cent of the country’s overall labour force.

The PBO study looks at the role foreign workers played in the Canadian economy in the decade between 2002 and 2012.

Foreign workers can enter the labour market through either the international mobility program or the temporary foreign worker program, which came under fire last year after allegations surfaced about some employers—particularly restaurants—abusing the program.

The PBO report says 85 per cent of the foreign workers in low-skilled positions were in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario.

The study says a significant number of foreigners work on farms, in restaurants or as babysitters or nannies, jobs likely on the low end of the pay scale.

Employers don’t seem to want to raise wages in these areas, so they are forced to rely on either unemployed domestic workers with few skills or foreign workers, the report says.

The Conservative government introduced new rules in June to limit the number of foreign workers that large- and medium-sized companies are permitted to hire.

It says the changes are aimed at ensuring Canadians are first in line for jobs.

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