Thousands of temporary foreign workers have been permitted to come to Canada even as unemployment hit a record high in May.
According to Blacklock’s Reporter, a recent report from the Department of Employment revealed that 13,000 foreign workers were approved to come to Canada between March 15 to May 8, or approximately 1,625 per week.
The report, which was requested by Conservative MP Brad Vis, said that most of these workers are going to work in agriculture.
“Approximately seventy percent of these positions represent occupations the government is prioritizing to ensure Canada’s food security in the context of COVID-19,” the report reads.
“An additional fifteen percent are in support of applications for permanent residence for specialized or skilled workers.”
The report comes after the head of Canada’s temporary foreign worker program Philippe Massé was not able to tell MPs exactly how many workers have been accepted since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Last week Statistics Canada reported that in May, the unemployment rate in Canada reached 13.7%, the highest rate seen since the agency started collecting comparable data.
As many as 5.5 million Canadians are either unemployed or working significantly reduced hours. The worst affected by the pandemic are students, who had a 40.1% unemployment rate.
True North founder Candice Malcolm recently proposed a national work program to address youth unemployment and reduce the need for foreign workers in Canada.
However, instead of prioritizing jobs for Canadians, the Trudeau government wants as many temporary foreign workers as possible to arrive in Canada.
The government has spent millions to pay for foreign workers to self-isolate for the required two weeks. Even after investing $50 million into this precaution, several coronavirus outbreaks have occurred amongst groups of foreign workers.
The government report adds that the department may eventually refuse temporary foreign worker applications for a select number of low-wage positions.
“The department is strengthening its assessment criteria for all new and existing (permit) applications under review, which includes an expanded practice of refusing to process applications for certain low-wage positions in the accommodation, food services and retail trade sectors across Canada,” the wrote.
Recently, an Ontario farm reported a coronavirus outbreak after 85 migrant workers tested positive for the virus. Parts of Southern Ontario have been witnessing outbreaks of the coronavirus in recent months.