AU professor releases new research report on temporary migrant workers
In the early 2000s, during a period of rapid growth in Canada, thousands of migrant workers arrived in the country to live and work—especially in Alberta. During a federal policy change and an economic downturn in 2015, thousands of workers’ permits to live and work in Canada expired, with no prospect of renewal.
In a new research report published by the Parkland Institute, titled In the Shadows: Living and Working Without Status in Alberta, Athabasca University (AU) associate professor Dr. Jason Foster and his co-author Marco Luciano aim to describe the experiences of these workers and what it is like to live and work in Alberta. Their goal is to use the data to help guide government policy.
Luciano, who is the director of Migrante Alberta, an advocacy and self-help organization for migrant workers, described these workers’ situation in a media release.
“These are workers who came to Canada to work through official channels, and then saw the rules governing their status changed with absolutely no consideration of them or their circumstances,” he said. “They’re not looking for special treatment. They just want to work, provide for their families, and be able to fully participate in the communities where they live.”
Without status, many of these workers face challenges, such as working in jobs that might be casual and cash-based. They also aren’t able to access basic services such as healthcare. There is the constant risk of having their status exposed. The report explores these challenges and provides a list of recommendations to governments at the provincial and federal level.
Foster has had an interest in this area long before he started working at AU. He has been studying temporary foreign workers for almost 15 years.
“I think my motivation is a combination of both academic and intellectual curiosity, but I also feel an obligation on this issue in terms of policy and people, to the men and women who are here, to not just study and observe, but to also engage,” Foster said of how his research interests have continued to evolve over time.
For this research project, he worked with community advocates and people in the community to co-design the research questions to formulate the study. This is because he wanted to ask the questions that needed asking in order to advocate for policy change and to help raise awareness among the general population.
The research doesn’t end with this report, Foster is also involved with a national research project looking at temporary foreign workers across Canada in a five-year study.
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