Good enough to work, good enough to stay: Addressing the impact of Canada’s human capital model on permanent residency pathways for ‘low-skill’ temporary foreign workers

Date created: 
Yushu Zhu
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Public Policy
Canadian immigration
Low-skill workers
Temporary foreign workers
Immigration pathways
Permanent residence
Two-step migration

This paper reviews Canada’s use of a skills-based determinant system for economic immigration, focusing on admission for the ‘best and brightest’ candidates. The human capital model has led to disproportionate access to permanent residency pathways for temporary foreign workers classified as low skill, who are often filling critical labour market gaps in essential and in demand sectors of Canada’s economy. Through an evidence-based policy analysis, including a jurisdictional scan and expert interviews, three policy options were explored in challenging the human capital model and effectively providing permanent residency opportunities in Canada for temporary foreign workers in low wage positions. Recommendations include the implementation of sector-specific pathways for 'low-skill' temporary foreign workers in critical industries, greater support services and an overhaul of the points-based system to focus on competencies for labour-market driven immigrant selection, balancing abilities and labour market needs with equity and long term societal and economic goals.

Thesis type: 
(Project) M.P.P.
Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
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