Made in Canada: How the Law Constructs Migrant Workers’ Insecurity
Fay Faraday

Canada’s reliance on low-wage migrant workers with temporary immigration status is growing but our laws make them vulnerable to abuse. Made in Canada: How the Law Constructs Migrant Workers’ Insecurity shows that low-wage migrant workers are brought into Canada on terms that leave them open to exploitation and that present barriers to enforcing basic rights to decent work.

The report highlights that the number of temporary foreign workers in Canada has more than tripled in the past decade. Most low-wage migrant workers in Ontario labour as live-in caregivers; as agricultural workers; and in sectors such as hotels, restaurants, food processing, and construction. They are frequently underpaid, overworked, and denied basic rights like decent housing, and health and safety.

“Since migrant workers don’t enjoy the same legal status and protections as permanent residents, they are at higher risk of abuse by employers who take advantage of their vulnerability,” says the report’s author Fay Faraday, a Metcalf Fellow and respected constitutional, labour, and human rights lawyer.

“It’s time to put an end to this type of exploitation,” says Faraday. “It’s a Made in Canada problem – it reflects the way immigration and labour laws and policies fail to adequately regulate Canada’s migrant labour market. But there is a Made in Canada solution.”

While federal immigration and provincial employment law and policy are typically developed separately, Made in Canada examines the two systems in an integrated way and recommends our federal and provincial governments do the same.

“At each stage in the labour migration cycle, migrant workers face insecurity that is either created through law or sustained because the law fails to prevent practices that are known to undermine workers’ security and capacity to enforce their rights,” Faraday says.

Faraday’s report documents detailed policy and legal changes that would improve the situation. Sandy Houston, President & CEO of the Metcalf Foundation, calls on federal and provincial governments to take a close look at the flaws in immigration and labour migration policies.

“Cycling a renewable pool of precarious workers in and out of the country is not a model for building a sustainable economy, for building secure communities, or for building a nation,” Houston says. “We can do better.”

Related Materials & Media Coverage

For media inquiries, please contact:  

Adriana Beemans, Metcalf Foundation
(416) 926-0366 x224,

Media Release

Backgrounder Q & A

Abuse of migrant workers ‘endemic’ in Canada, new study says
The Toronto Star, Nicholas Keung
September 17, 2012

Ontario Migrant Workers Face Systemic Exploitation, Metcalf Foundation Study Says
Huffington Post, Rachel Mendleson
September 17, 2012

Part Of A System
CBC Radio, Metro Morning, Host Matt Galloway interviews report author Fay Faraday
September 17, 2012

Canada’s laws fuel migrant worker exploitation: Report
Canadian HR
September 17, 2012

Migrant workers open to abuse, says new report
Sun News Network 
September 17, 2012

UFCW Canada Endorses Metcalf Recommendations of Status for Migrant Workers
UFCW Canada
September 17, 2012

Migrant Workers: Exploitation ‘Systemic’ in Temporary Workforce: Report
CTV News Channel, Host Todd Van Der Heyden interviews report author Fay Faraday
September 17, 2012 

Immigration laws feed exploitation of workers: report
Canadian Lawyer Magazine
, Jennifer Brown
September 18, 2012

Report criticizes Canada’s Temporary Migration Program

September 19, 2012

Canada’s laws fuel migrant worker exploitation: Report
First Reference Talks, Yosie Saint-Cyr
September 19, 2012

Seasonal agricultural workers treated well says program spokesman
Better Farming, Susan Mann
September 21, 2012

NDP Says Conservatives Failing to Protect Migrant Workers
The Link
September 22, 2012

Something awful this way comes, Hans Rollman
September 25, 2012

Exploitation of seasonal migrant workers feared by unions
The Globe and Mail, Wendy Stueck
September 25, 2012

Temporary foreign worker laws in Canada
CBC Radio, The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti, interviews with migrant worker Juma Rangam and report author Fay Faraday
October 9, 2012

Media Mornings
Vancouver Co-op Radio 100.5FM, Media Mornings, Host Jane Bouey interviews report author Fay Faraday (interview starts at 48:55)
March 11, 2013

Agenda Plus: Temporary Migrants, Permanent Program
The Agenda (TVO):  The Inside Agenda Blog, Hilary Clark interviews report author Fay Faraday
March 19, 2013

RBC and Foreign Workers
CBC Radio, Shift – NB, Paul Castle interviews report author Fay Faraday
April 8, 2013

Temporary foreign workers controversy
CBC Radio, The Homestretch (Edmonton), Host Doug Dirks interviews report author Fay Faraday
April 8, 2013

CBC Radio, Metro Morning, Host Matt Galloway interviews report author Fay Faraday
April 8, 2013

The Use of Temporary Foreign Workers
CBC Radio, Ontario Morning, Host Wei Chin interviews report author Fay Faraday (interview starts at 13:00)
April 15, 2013