International Migration Research Centre

Document Type

Policy Points

Publication Date



Ontario is unique when it comes to international migration in Canada. It is the leading province in overall flows, including individuals participating in the temporary foreign workers (TFWs) program. Employers hire TFWs on a contractual basis to work here, and from 2000 to 2012, about 800,000 came to Ontario – representing 40% of Canada’s total TFWs. Despite their growing numbers, economic importance, and the rapidly changing landscape of federal immigration policy, there is little work looking at the Temporary Foreign Worker Program or its economic impact on the province. In this research, we found that employers in specific industries, like agriculture, senior business management, and childcare, tended to hire TFWs and did so through specific parts of the Program. Our preliminary results show that the influx of TFWs was statistically associated with shorter job tenure, higher Employment Insurance receipts, and increases in wages in some jobs, but lower wages in others. These effects are particularly significant in industries with large numbers of TFWs. So while TFWs undoubtedly contribute to Ontario’s overall economic development, more research should be done to understand their specific economic effects on particular industries and demographics. This is especially important given the provincial responsibilities in labour, health and education, which federal immigration policy directly impacts.