In a random sampling of public opinion taken by the Forum Poll among 1,385 Canadians 18 years of age and older, the majority (51%) do not agree Canadian employers should be able to hire temporary foreign workers (a federal program which has just been curtailed), while fewer than this agree (45%). Disagreement with temporary foreign workers is highest in BC (60%) and Alberta (57%) and lowest in Quebec (39%), where many are employed.
The plurality of Canadians who do not reject the idea in general say temporary foreign workers should only be allowed if the required skills are not available in Canada (31%), followed by those who want to be sure no Canadian jobs are displaced (21%) or those who accept temporary foreign workers for jobs Canadians refuse (18%).
Two thirds of Canadians do not agree with the current law where employers are allowed to pay temporary foreign workers less for equivalents skills and duties (66%), and just more than a quarter agree (28%). More than one third disagree strongly (37%).
More than 8-in-10 Canadians agree temporary foreign workers should be proficient in either French or English before being allowed to work here (82%), and as many as two thirds agree strongly (64%).
There is an even split in opinion between those who agree temporary foreign workers should seek citizenship (45%) and those who disagree (46%). Agreement is highest in the Prairies and disagreement highest in the Maritimes.
The wide majority agree some Canadian firms take advantage of the temporary foreign worker program to reduce labour costs (70%).
While the proportion of Canadians saying they themselves have been displaced by a temporary foreign worker is small (6%), many know someone in this position (26%).
“It’s not surprising that average Canadians see this program as either a way for employers to replace them, or pay them less. Few see any personal benefit to themselves, and many see it as unethical. Given the number who know someone who has lost a job to this program, the optics are very problematic,” said Forum Research President, Dr. Lorne Bozinoff.
Lorne Bozinoff, Ph.D. is the president and founder of Forum Research. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (416) 960-9603.