Temporary foreign workers warned to leave Canada as required
April 1, 2015
By Les Whittington, Toronto Star |
The fate of thousands of temporary foreign workers facing deportation beginning April 1 emerged as a high-stakes national issue, with small business urging Ottawa to let them stay and the federal government threatening to track down any who try to go underground.
Many low-skilled people who came to Canada under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program are expected to leave the country beginning Wednesday as a result of a clampdown by the Conservative government. Estimates of the exodus run into the tens of thousands but Ottawa won’t provide details.
As the rule of the four-year ban of re-entry rolled in Wednesday, the federal government warned temporary foreign workers who are due to leave that they will be dealt with swiftly if they try to go underground to avoid leaving Canada.
“Let there be no mistake: We will not tolerate people going ‘underground.’ Flouting our immigration laws is not an option, and we will deal with offenders swiftly and fairly,” Immigration Minister Chris Alexander and Employment Minister Pierre Poilievre said in a statement.
The low-skilled workers are losing their work permits under a policy introduced on April 1, 2011 that requires any temporary foreign workers who have been here for four years to leave. They are also barred from returning for four years under the “4-in-4-out” rule.
As many as 70,000 workers now in the country will have to leave, according to the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, which projected the estimates based on the number of work permits issued four years ago and foreign workers who had already been working in Canada before then.
The Alliance points out that some of these workers may be in their first year of employment and have as many as three more years before having to leave.
The clampdown has prompted widespread complaints of unfairness and future chaos in business.
Thai worker Somsha Chanchai’s work permit expired Wednesday and he will be boarding a flight back to Bangkok on Sunday.