International Experience Program Is Good For Canada

By Andy Semotiuk | May 2, 2014

Immigration lawyer Andy SemotiukToronto immigration lawyer Andy Semotiuk: There is what I view as an unseemly shift in the coverage of foreign worker programs in Canada today. I’ve talked about the Temporary Foreign Worker Program before, but this particular story deals with the International Experience Canada Program:

Under the International Experience Canada program, as many as 20,000 workers aged 18 to 35 will soon be coming to Canada — just as Canadian youth begin pounding the pavement in search of summer jobs…

In exchange, Canadians can apply to work in 32 participating countries that also include Ukraine, Slovenia and Slovakia. Government data, however, indicates that more than three times as many foreigners come to Canada under the program than the other way around.

Doug Parton of the Ironworkers union in B.C. has called on the government to crack down on the IEC, saying there are no skills assessments of the incoming workers and no requirement that companies pay workers the prevailing wage rate.

“It’s a complete free-for-all and it’s an attack on wages,” said Parton, the business agent for Ironworkers Local 97, which represents structural and reinforcing ironworkers in British Columbia.

Parton claims mines in B.C. are taking advantage of the program to bring in non-Canadian workers with none of the “checks and balances” ostensibly in place under the broader temporary foreign worker program.

One company in particular, Parton said, has been routinely bringing over dozens of temporary foreign workers under the program for more than a decade and paying them $13 an hour while providing no training whatsoever or apprenticeship opportunities to domestic workers.

This article is just another in the campaign to slam foreign worker programs in Canada. In this case, the focus is on the international exchange program that makes it possible for young people from abroad to come to Canada and work for up to two years while getting to know our country. Not only that, this program allows our own young people to gain valuable travel, work, and cultural experience abroad.
We already know that opponents of foreign worker programs want to keep people out. What’s next, keeping our own young people in?
While the program could possibly be faulted for favouring Ireland at the expense of other countries, there is great benefit for Canada in hosting foreign young people. They will go back to their homes as ambassadors of Canada to share our goodwill with others, and our young Canadians will learn from them while they are here. Meanwhile, our own young people will represent Canada abroad while working and learning about other cultures. This is a good thing, and it should continue.

Andy Semotiuk is a Canadian and US immigration lawyer with immigration law firmPace Law Firm. You can learn more about Andy at My Work Visa.