Victim or menace: Notes on the TFWP and political agency

The louder the debate about temporary foreign workers grows, the more it seems temporary foreign workers, especially those from the global South performing low-wage labour, are left in the din on the sidelines. While there have been stories about exploitation on the job and beyond, much of the focus is on Canadian resident workers, business owners and the Program itself as an object of “abuse”.

When migrant workers are present, they are often placed at two opposing end-points on a spectrum of agency. At times, they are described as helpless victims at the exploitative whim of businesses and government regulations. Other times, however, they are presented as taking away “Canadian” jobs, actively affecting the labour market outcomes of resident workers.

There is a contradiction between representations that depict either an abject passivity or a kind of near malice – sometimes even simultaneously. (more…)

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