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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Indian Workforce and Students allege ‘Exploitation’- Is Canada using Indians as ‘Cheap Labor’?

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Canada is known as one of the most popular destination for Indian students after they complete their schooling. Students prefer to go to Canada for further studies and then they get the permanent residency as well. The Indian community in Canada remains growing due to the thousands of students and workers migrating every year to pursue their higher education and job opportunities respectively.

With 1.83 lakh Indian students pursuing education at various levels in the country, Canada is the second most popular destination for Indians pursuing academic degrees at foreign shores. Canada has processed more than 4.52 lakh study permit applications since January — a 23 per cent increase compared to the 3.67 lakh processed over the same period last year.

International students contribute more than C$21 billion ($15.3 billion) annually to the Canadian economy, according to the government data. Canada is a popular choice among students moving abroad due to its quality education, friendly visa and immigration rules, and better life prospects. Most Indian students are interested in remaining in Canada as permanent residents after completing their studies.

It looks like a rosy picture, but situation has been changed gradually. Now, Indian students have expressed their distress about working part-time jobs in Canada, alleging that they are exploiting the Indian workforce by using them as cheap labor for a couple of years, then laying them off, forcing them to survive on their savings.

While the economy remained to recover from the Covid pandemic, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau allowed 50,000 foreign students to stay in the country for 18 months to seek jobs after they graduate from their universities. The Canadian government made this provision to fill urgent vacancies in key sectors, and also allow Indian students to gain proper experience and a permanent residency in Canada.

Amid labor shortage and high unemployment rate, which fell to 5.2 per cent this September, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced a new temporary measure aimed at reducing severe labor shortages in Canada.

According to the report, PM Justin Trudeau’s government introduced the permit extension move to over 5,00,000 international students already in Canada to potentially work more hours, and stay for 18 months after graduation to seek employment.

However, after more than a year, some of these permanent-resident hopefuls have been left without status to work or remain in the country. Now, as the 18 months come to an end, many Indian permanent residents remain unemployed and out of money.

According to a Bloomberg report, the Canadian locals remain struggling with unemployment while Indian students are being hired at entry-level jobs, only to remain unemployed a few months later.

Daniel D’Souza, an accountant and former student at Seneca College near Toronto, told Bloomberg, “I regret choosing Canada as a country to immigrate to, to study and to live in. Canada should appreciate foreign students more, not just use them as a form of cheap labor.”

“When they needed us, they exploited us. But when we need their help or support, nobody shows up,” Anshdeep Bindra, a former consultant at Ernst & Young in Toronto, told Bloomberg.

The government needs “to prioritize people who paid for education here, have experience here, and are connected with employers here,” said Amira Ali, who was a leasing specialist for a property management company in Calgary. “They’re forcing us into a corner and leaving us without any solutions.”

Indian graduates, who hoped that the permit extension would give them more time to gain Canadian work experience, got mired in a backlog of applications that led to a 10-month shutdown of the system to allow the government to process them.

The foreign graduates were hoping the permit extension would give them more time to gain Canadian work experience and boost their scores under the country’s immigration ranking system for skilled workers, as per the report.

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser’s department said it’s considering ways to better support those who want to settle in the country permanently. The government “recognizes the tremendous social, cultural and economic benefits” that foreign students bring, spokesperson Jeffrey MacDonald said in an emailed statement.

However, this policy has sent a shockwaves among the Indians, and it may impact the migration on Indian students and workers to Canada. It will also diminish the credibility of Canadian government, which is planning to open immigration for thousands of people in in 2022-23. We sincerely hope Canadian government take the corrective actions to resolve this matter on priority.

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