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BCBC Publication:
Temporary Foreign Workers in Canada: Separating Fact from Fiction


  • There were 300,000 Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) in Canada at the end of 2011, up from approximately 150,000 in 2006. The overall figure for TFWs captures people who entered Canada under several different program categories.
  • As of 2011, more than half of all TFWs were classified as workers with “Canadian interests.” This broad category includes more than 65,000 TFWs here under reciprocal employment arrangements that have no net impact on the domestic labour market.
  • Just over 100,000, or one in three of all TFWs, entered as a result of positive Labour Market Opinions issued by the federal government in response to applications made by Canadian employers. Of these, roughly half were live-in caregivers and seasonal agricultural workers.
  • International agreements such as NAFTA account for nearly 12% of all of the TFWs in the country.
  • There were 70,000 TFWs in British Columbia at the end of 2011. Relative to the size of the labour market, BC has proportionally more TFWs than other provinces. But this is mainly due to a large number of reciprocal foreign workers (people on youth exchanges, visiting professors and lecturers, trainers, and so on) present in BC.