Foreign Workers Are Not Bad For Canada

By Andy Semotiuk | March 20, 2015

US and Canadian Immigration Lawyer Andy Semotiuk: Another article from the CBC is taking the Canadian government and big business to task for hiring foreign workers. You may recall that the CBC highlighted temporary foreign worker issues with McDonald’s in 2014. This time, it’s Microsoft:

A majority of workers at a new Microsoft Canada training centre in Vancouver would be drawn from the ranks of foreigners, according to draft plans obtained under British Columbia’s freedom of information laws.

Both the federal and provincial governments have praised the Microsoft Canada Excellence Centre as a project that will boost the B.C. economy and create 400 jobs, mainly in software and services engineering…

Immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman said the draft plans call into question the government’s stated rationale of economic benefit.

“One wonders what’s the actual economic benefit to Canada of creating 400 jobs if the majority of those jobs are going to foreign workers and not to Canadians, and especially given that a lot of these foreign workers are going to be rotating through Canada with the ultimate object possibly being to get jobs in the United States or other jurisdictions,” he said.

The documents show the province pursued the plan through its so-called major project exemption process, which requires the project not displace British Columbians from the job market, create job opportunities for British Columbians, and result in a “sizeable multi-year investment.”

The problem with the views expressed in such articles is the supposition that jobs are commodities owned by Canada, and that the federal government’s role is to control companies in doling out such jobs.

In reality, the employer has – or should have – every right to hire who he or she wishes to hire, whether it is a foreigner or a Canadian. It is the owner of the company and not the federal government that is spending the money to create the work in the first place.
It is also a stretch to read the minds of a foreign workers and determine that they are merely using Canada as a stepping stone to the United States. But even if that were the case, so what?
What is wrong with allowing professional workers to come to Canada under NAFTA, or for executives or managers to come to Canada as inter-corporate transferees? What is wrong with hiring specialized workers from outside Canada, when by definition they have specialized knowledge not immediately available to the employer?
It is worth remembering that these immigration rules cut both ways. There are tens of thousands of Canadians reaping the benefits of their education and experience by working overseas and in the U.S. Should we recall them all in order to bar foreigners from working in Canada? In the quid pro quo world of immigration, if Canada were to shut the door on foreign workers, rest assured the international community would respond in kind.
We have rules in place to enable employers to hire foreign workers while still protecting the rights of Canadian workers. ​Let’s get a grip on ourselves and celebrate the fact that a leading technology company is opening a major center in Canada. Even if all their workers were foreign, the offshoot spending and economic impact the project provides can only benefit Canada.