Temporary Foreign Workers – A Much Needed Workforce

Recent changes in Canada’s immigration policy, including a focus on recruiting skilled workers that fit Canada’s labour needs, raise questions about the future of Temporary Foreign Workers in Nova Scotia. The federal government is looking to permanent residents and Canadian citizens, who are seasonal workers, to fill employment needs. Does this mean there will be more or less Temporary Foreign Workers in the province? Employers who depend on Temporary Foreign Workers have expressed concern about the new policy, but the reality seems to be that Temporary Foreign Workers are here to stay.

In 2011, 2,846 new Temporary Foreign Workers entered Nova Scotia, and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) recorded 4,263 in total resident throughout the province. Many of these workers are accompanied by their dependents, requiring all the services that permanent residents need, including schooling, work, healthcare, access to public services and a connection to the community. They pay taxes, contribute to CPP and pay EI – but there are restrictions on what services and opportunities are available to them. Many of them have come here to seek a better life, and see this as a new beginning for themselves and their families.

In response to the growing number of Temporary Foreign Workers, and the concern to protect their rights, Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia proposed and created the Temporary Foreign Worker Support Program, meant to provide information and connection for those who want to integrate into their new community. This program is funded by the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration.

Temporary Foreign Workers and their partners or spouses are eligible for support services as long as they both have a valid work permit and register with Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia. Although not eligible for the full range of Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia services, one-on-one sessions provide clients with information about labour standards, immigration and community resources. Clients can also access Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia translation services for certain documentation and be referred to an employment counsellor. Group information sessions have been created to provide Temporary Foreign Workers with knowledge from professionals who are experts in their fields, and an online program called Introduction to Canada prepares newcomers for life in Nova Scotia.

Temporary Foreign Workers can be an essential to a company’s business strategy, but they are also vital to the future of Nova Scotian communities. By providing select services to Temporary Foreign Workers, Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia aims to create a welcoming and supportive environment for these newcomers, who have chosen to begin a new chapter of their life here in Canada.

Originally published by Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia in TouchBASE Magazine