Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor | Carleton University
Migration and Labour
North America

Temporariness, Rights, and Citizenship: The Latest Chapter in Canada’s Exclusionary Migration and Refugee History

Decent Work and Economic Growth

This work examines the similarities and differences between refugee claimants and low-skilled temporary foreign workers in Canada on the path to gaining citizenship, and the exclusionary circumstances they face.

References

Journal article: Temporariness, Rights, and Citizenship: The Latest Chapter in Canada’s Exclusionary Migration and Refugee History (2014)
Peer Reviewed
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About:

This research used a qualitative approach and conceptual analysis method.

The research methodology used policy and conceptual analysis.

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Funding:

This research was independently conducted and did not receive funding from outside of the university.

  • For policymakers
  • For Advocacy & Human Rights
  • Canada
  • citizenship
  • migration
  • policy
  • refugees
  • Published: 2022

Key points

  • As states consider more two-step migration, they should urgently reconsider the focus on employment as a signal of contribution – since this often leads to increased employer exploitation and survival employment.

The research paper examines Canada’s exclusionary migrant history, specifically the similarities between two groups of non-citizens: lower-skilled temporary foreign workers and refugee claimants.

In 2014, Canada’s Economic Action Plan increased the occurrence and persistence of temporariness for both groups. Increasing temporariness systematically excludes these groups from a wide array of rights such as provincial workplace standards, family (re) unification, permanent status, and eligibility for citizenship.

Findings

  • There are some important differences between non-citizens: lower-skilled temporary foreign workers and refugee claimants as well.

    Refugee claimants have access to social assistance but reduced rights to work, while low-skilled temporary foreign workers face more restrictive labour market options (work permits are tied to specific employers) but without rights to social assistance anywhere in Canada, relying on employers and private actors for basic needs.

  • The exclusionary nature of these restrictions reflects the host country’s discriminatory history and contemporary devaluation of select groups of temporary residents.

    Restricting citizenship increases individual's vulnerability and social exclusion.

  • Effective policy should view these two groups as theoretically and experimentally linked.

    Although the groups differ in some respects, linking them may help Canada avoid their dark, exclusionary past.

What it means

The findings here are relevant to consider for the temporary labour schemes and refugee admission systems in several immigrant-receiving nations, including Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and other European countries.

Aside from temporary labour schemes, these ideas can also be relevant for the growing number of changes to skilled migration programs.

As well, it is important to consider as more immigrant receiving countries move towards two-step migration: providing new pathways for temporary residents, such as visitors, foreign workers, and international graduates, to transition into permanent residents.
a. Who is being targeted? What types of jobs are they assuming? What jobs are they qualified for?
b. Who is staying after being temporary?

How to use

  • States must consider the effectiveness of communicating the eligibility and conditions associated with different migration schemes – asking important questions such as
  • Status for all - arriving with permanent status in the host country remains the most effective strategy to ensure that non-citizens can access substantive citizenship rights
  • As states consider more two-step migration - providing new pathways for temporary residents to transition into permanent residents – they should reconsider the focus on employment as a signal of contributions since it often leads to increased employer exploitation, survival employment instead of commensurate employment, and downward labour mobility
  • States and service organisations should stop viewing each of the schemes and its applicants (e
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Hari, Amrita. 'Temporariness, Rights, and Citizenship: The Latest Chapter in Canada’s Exclusionary Migration and Refugee History'. Acume. https://www.acume.org/r/temporariness-rights-and-citizenship/