Every year, Canada issues more than 30,000 temporary work to Mexicans, who comprise approximately 10% of Canada’s migrant workforce. The majority are agricultural workers recruited through the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) that has been in place for nearly half a century. These workers, 96% of whom are men, travel to and from Canada each year as part of the popular scheme that the Mexican government administers with Canadian employers. The relatively tightly managed SAWP contrasts with the loosely regulated private recruitment industry which mediates access to jobs in North America for Mexico’s migrant workers.
Outside the SAWP, Canadian employers can hire migrant workers from any country as long as they and the workers meet the various immigration requirements. The numbers of foreign workers arriving in Canada under temporary programmes have nearly tripled in the last decade. Various sectors of the economy now depend to some extent on temporary foreign workers - foreign workers made up 26% of the crop production workforce in 2017. Canada’s increasing reliance on migrant labour, particularly in low-wage jobs, has created some tension in the context of government commitments to provide jobs to Canadians. As a result, businesses have to complete what they see as a burdensome and costly Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) each time they want to recruit a non-national, demonstrating that it is not possible to hire Canadian residents for the position (this requirement applies to most low-wage jobs).