Working holiday portion of TFW program could be hurting youth employment

January 8, 2015

The International Experience Canada initiative, a working holiday program for foreign youth that is part of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program, could be affecting the employment of Canadian youth, according to internal Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) documents. One email from a senior policy adviser in the department noted that a study of a similar program in Australia revealed that “it is young local workers who are the main losers in the competition for employment. This is especially the case for those without post-school education, who are seeking less skilled, entry-level jobs.” The working holiday program is often held up as a positive feature of the TFW program, and Canada's Minister of Employment and Social Development Jason Kenney has called it a “benign subset” of the TFW program. However, as the largest area of the controversial TFW program, the International Experience Canada program allows tens of thousands of workers to come to Canada each year with employers not being required to prove that they were unable to hire a Canadian worker. Canadian labour groups also suggest that, under the program, construction sites hire youth who do not have the proper credentials needed for the work. Globe and Mail

Postscript: January 12, 2015

The Globe and Mail reports that the Canadian government is planning cuts that would limit the number of foreign youth working in Canada. This news comes in the wake of an earlier report that suggested that the International Experience Canada initiative, part of the Temporary Foreign Worker program, was having a negative impact on the employment of Canadian youth. According to documents obtained by the Globe, the government has warned partner nations that quotas for young workers coming to Canada will be “reduced significantly” unless they begin to take on more Canadian workers. One document states that “24 of 32 countries’ programs (predominantly in the EU) are slated to be cut between 50 and 99 per cent.” A spokesperson for Canadian Immigration Minister Chris Alexander told the Globe that “we are not contemplating a reduction of numbers at this time.” Globe and Mail