Working holiday programs for thousands of foreign youth – often touted by the Conservative government as a positive element of the controversial temporary foreign worker program – risk boosting youth unemployment at home, internal Citizenship and Immigration documents say.
The International Experience Canada initiative allows tens of thousands of young people to work in Canada each year without requiring employers to pay prevailing wages or prove Canadians could not be found for the jobs.
It is the largest area of the controversial temporary foreign worker program, and Conservative Minister Jason Kenney has frequently invoked it to counter criticism of the broader program. Australians working in Whistler are a common example Mr. Kenney cites.
However, labour groups paint the program in a more negative light, saying employers use it to staff construction sites with low-paid workers who lack proven qualifications.
Bear in mind that there is a quid pro quo in all of this. Just as there are indeed thousands of foreign youngsters working in Canada, there are thousands of Canadian young people working overseas. Two popular hotspots for Canadian youth are France and Australia, but if you have some time on your hands, read the list here of all the countries that allow for young people to come and work within their borders. Canada is far from alone in this practice.The life skills and education that Canadian young people receive through these experiences is valuable. In the tit-for-tat world of international visas, if we were to ban young people from coming to live and work in Canada, other nations would no doubt follow suit.