For the Price of a Cup of Coffee

April 30th, 2013

Ponder the following questions:

Why haven’t we seen a drop in unemployment rates for certain groups of job-seekers – recent graduates, new immigrants, aboriginals, the unemployed?

Why aren’t wages increasing, even in high demand occupations?

Why don’t people move from one part of the country to another for a job?

The answer to all of these questions, at least in part, can be found in Canada’s increased reliance on temporary foreign workers. This is especially the case when it comes to workers in lower-wage jobs.

Over 330,000 foreign workers were admitted to Canada in 2011 and this is more than double the number that were admitted just six years ago. The majority of these foreign workers filled low-wage positions.

Consider that more than 20% of net new jobs created in Canada since 2007 have gone to temporary foreign workers, while during the same period the jobless rate for low-skilled workers went from 8.3% to 10.5%. What’s more, it’s hard to argue with the program’s many critics who claim that foreign workers depress wages.

So why does the government persist with bringing in ever-larger numbers of workers from abroad? The knee-jerk response is that the Conservatives lie down with big business and the latter prefers its workforce to be vulnerable and compliant. Maybe that’s the case, but I suspect there is more at play here.

The vast majority of voters are unhappy, to say the least, with the idea of foreign workers competing with locals for Canadian jobs. The decision-makers in Ottawa are anything but dumb and are acutely aware of voters’ feelings. Turning off the tap on foreign workers is simple enough, but then what? Do we let workers’ wages rise to the point where the people in Canada agree to be hired?

What happens, for example, to the price of a cup of coffee at Tim Horton’s when we replace the low salaries of foreign worker counter attendants with the higher salaries demanded by Canadian workers? Voters having to pay more in their everyday lives are voters who look for a change. This is not lost on the powers-that-be.

Previous Blog : Justice Delayed is Justice Denied
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13 Responses to “For the Price of a Cup of Coffee”

  • On May 1st, 2013, Keiko Otto said ...

    49% of immigrants coming to Canada have a college or a university degree but many of them end up working for low wage job temporarily or for a long time…. about Tim Horton story….sad but reality at the same time… Canada is so dependent on the immigrants….I am one of them for 10 years. It’s extremely difficult to find a job or a career of my profession as an immigrant if you don’t have a high school and up education here in Canada but the reality is that we have to pay the bills and feed the kids at home, stay positive, and do our best to become a part of Canadian society and economy…

  • On May 2nd, 2013, Anonymous said ...

    cuts to wage + cuts to quality = bigger profit. Where are the cost saving we were promised with free trade and outsourcing? Have you walked through a mall lately? Have you seen the cost of shoes/shirts/pants/toiletries that are being produced at $1/hr overseas?

  • On May 2nd, 2013, Anonymous said ...

    businesses that require thousands of minimum wage workers do not have a right to import cheap labour. Hire students or come up with a more creative business model. Tim Hortons is earning billions if they paid more and raised their price of coffee we’d see more family coffee shops opening up. That would be a free market.

  • On May 2nd, 2013, jay said ...

    Temporary foreign workers seem to eclipse Canadian and Permanent Resident workers. For the intent of letting TFW’s to come in is to fill the gap when need arises. However, with employers looking for low wages the last resort become the first choice. looking for the job created it is then almost filled up by TFW’s. This should be carefully evaluated, assessed and correct the program in order for Canadians and PR to integrate within their chosen field. PR holders had been filterred prior to moving to Canada expecting to start a better career for most are highly skillful. TFW’s, is it because employers pay less 15% of wages against Canadian and easily removed?

  • On May 2nd, 2013, Penélope said ...

    I worked as TFW at a Tim Hortons location in Alberta a couple of years ago and I learned something about the labor force in those kind of jobs. first of all I have to say about the salary I used to have, it wasn´t exactly lower than the salary for the canadian staff back then, I was being paid exactly the same than my canadian coworkers, I know that because it was a rule at that location and yes, there was a time when coworkers discussed that. On that location there were more canadians than TFW (all ages, from 15 to 65 years old) but 80% of canadians worked only 2 or 3 months and then left. Very few canadians could be considered long term employees on that location. I understood why the owner was choosing to hire some TFW, we were commited to at least 1 year of work and they don´t have to hire and train people that will leave after 2 months. At least they had 6 or 7 people in their staff that after the training could be considered profitable. It wasn´t only investing on new employees all the time. I learned that salaries are different from one location to another, I was making $4 more p/hour than the salary offered in job posting in a different city or province for the same position, many of my canadian coworkers were people that moved from their province for a better job or at least a better income and they found it. So, if you are a business that lacks of long term employees, what would you do? do you really would keep hiring only locals that going to leave pretty soon?

  • On May 3rd, 2013, pejman said ...

    I am waiting for my medical to come to Canada but when I read your story about looking good job or wages,I cant decide what should I do

  • On May 4th, 2013, Anonymous said ...

    I applied for immigration. After 7 years I did not hear and do not know the future. Last year I visited Canada, I find huge scope for me to do business of exporting Canadian products to the Middle East. I contacted some potential buyers, they are still interested if I am directly involved because I know exactly their requirements and the way they like to deal, time difference is also another factor.
    It was totally unfair to eliminate backlog files.

  • On May 7th, 2013, Anonymous said ...

    In my opinion, Govt should limit the permanent immigration and increase temporary workers as per the real time need of the market and business. Only route available to immigration should be through temporary foreign workers/university graduates only. Canadians may not be skilled enough to work in that job. They will be motivated to upgrade their skills if they want to remain competitive in the market. It’s a global human capital management truth.

  • On May 8th, 2013, Martha Arias said ...

    Many countries were built from work done by immigrants. As this article states, much of the work being done by them is not something most national citizens would want to be doing so is it really taking jobs away from the citizens of that country. I do see how it keeps the wage rate lower yet that in turn also keeps the product cost lower so it is really a catch 22.

  • On May 19th, 2013, mia said ...

    Though the situation is same but many of the new comer immigrants do not know how to grab a better opportunity. At start most of the immigrants have to compromise, however later they will go ahead as soon as they know the culture.

  • On May 24th, 2013, immigration said ...

    The war is against illegal immigration.

  • On April 4th, 2014, Paul Williams said ...

    Interesting that the Canadian government recently stopped its investor visa programme returning over 46,000 applications. Many of them Chinese investors and we are seeing a surge in Europe for applicants switching over to the European golden visas particularly in Portugal.

  • On May 22nd, 2014, TFW said ...

    Thank you so much canada but be thankfull to us too.
    I heard alots of news blogs comments that here in canada the TFW getting bulks that catch up issue why or how or who or what we are doing here? A Simple answer why TFW increasing. Just because
    Your economy gets grower and grower and grower that canadians will be shortages in terms of law employee.some blames us. we did’nt even do wrong just to serve and help the locals and economy.and for those unemployed who complained that they are losing thier job i’ve seen alots of work posted anywhere.ask your self why you are unemployed. the fortune wont seek you. And then look at the brigthside of TFW. canada still shinning because we handed a little help. Please appreciate us instead of blaming..ilove people in canada akind heart..
    Why dont we help each other.and ONETHING’ no one can replace the canadians in canada……..TFW

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