Advertisement

“All of This Happens Here?”: Diminishing Perceptions of Canada through Immigrants’ Precarious Work in Ontario

  • Mary Jean HandeEmail author
  • Ayesha Mian Akram
  • Shelley Condratto
Article
  • 255 Downloads

Abstract

Prior to entering Canadian workplaces, immigrants generally expect strong legislative protections based on Canada’s global reputation for equity and equality as reported by Hardwick and Mansfield (Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 99(2), 383-405, 2009). However, after exposure to poor working conditions, employment standards (ES) violations, and challenges with filing claims for recompense, immigrant workers’ perceptions of work in Canada often diminish significantly. Although scholars have explored Canadian immigrants’ experiences with unemployment and poor working conditions, little research has uncovered the effects of these experiences on their shifting perceptions of Canada and their overall experience of adjusting to a new life in Canada. Our narrative data, collected in Ontario, Canada, reveals (1) the exploitation of immigrant workers’ perceived limited access to and knowledge of workplace rights and (2) limited access to employment opportunities and protections for immigrant workers. These two factors lead to workers’ diminishing perceptions of Canada as they navigate poor working conditions on the precarity track according to Goldring and Landolt (Goldring and Landolt 2013). This analysis offers insight into the everyday experiences of immigrant workers and the impacts of precarious employment on perceptions of Canada.

Keywords

Worker perceptions Employment standards Immigration and settlement Precarious work Working conditions Canada 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research emanates from the authors’ participation as student researchers in the Closing the Employment Standards Enforcement Gap Research Partnership, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada. The authors give special thanks to Justin Kong, Kiran Mirchandani, J. Adam Perry, and Leah F. Vosko for their intellectual contributions to this analysis.

References

  1. Akter, N., Topkara-Sarsu, S., & Dyson, D. (2013). Shadow economies: Economic survival strategies of Toronto immigrant communities. Resource document. Toronto East Local Immigration Partnership Workgroup. http://www.wellesleyinstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Shadow-Economies-FINAL.pdf . Accessed December 16, 2017.
  2. Alexander, C., & Prasad, A. (2014). Bottom up workplace law enforcement: An empirical analysis. Resource document. Georgia State University College of Law Reading Room. https://readingroom.law.gsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.ca/&httpsredir=1&article=1252&context=faculty_pub . Accessed December 16, 2017.
  3. Anderson, B. (2010). Migration, immigration controls and the fashioning of precarious workers. Work, Employment and Society, 24(2), 300–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Banerjee, R. (2008). An examination of factors affecting perception of workplace discrimination. Journal of Labor Research, 29, 380–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Binford, L. (2013). Tomorrow we’re all going to the harvest: Temporary foreign worker programs and neoliberal political economy. Austin: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  6. Boudarbat, B., & Cousineau, J.-M. (2010). Un emploi correspondant à ses attentes personnelles? Le cas des nouveaux immigrants au Québec. Journal of International Migration and Integration / Revue de L'integration et De La Migration Internationale, 11(2), 155–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bush, D. (2017). $15 and fairness shakes up Ontario. The Bullet . https://socialistproject.ca/2017/06/b1428/#continue . Accessed January 17, 2019.
  8. Choudry, A., & Smith, A. A. (2016). Unfree labour?: Struggles of migrant and immigrant workers in Canada. Oakland: PM Press.Google Scholar
  9. Cranford, C. J., Vosko, L. F., & Zukewich, N. (2003). Precarious employment in the Canadian labour market: a statistical portrait. Just Labour, 3(Fall), 6–22.Google Scholar
  10. de Castro, A., Fujishiro, K., Sweitzer, E., & Oliva, J. (2006). How immigrant workers experience workplace problems: a qualitative study. Archives of Environmental & Occupational Health, 61(6), 249–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dlamini, N., Anucha, U., & Wolfe, B. (2012). Negotiated positions: immigrant women’s views and experiences of employment in Canada. Journal of Women and Social Work, 27(4), 420–434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Faraday, F. (2012). Made in Canada: how the law constructs migrant workers’ insecurity. Resource document. Metcalf Foundation. https://metcalffoundation.com/stories/publications/made-in-canada-how-the-law-constructs-migrant-workers-insecurity/. Accessed January 10, 2019.
  13. Fudge, J. (2012). Precarious migrant status and precarious employment: the paradox of international rights for migrant workers. Comparative Labor Law & Policy Journal, 34(1), 95–131.Google Scholar
  14. Fuller, S., & Vosko, L. F. (2008). Temporary employment and social inequality in Canada: exploring intersections of gender, race and immigration status. Social Indicators Research, 88(1), 31–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gellatly, M., Grundy, J., Mirchandani, K., Perry, J. A., Thomas, M. P., & Vosko, L. F. (2011). ‘Modernising’ employment standards? Administrative efficiency and the production of the illegitimate claimant in Ontario, Canada. The Economic and Labour Relations Review, 22(2), 81–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gleeson, S. (2016). Precarious claims: The promise and failure of workplace protections in the United States. Oakland: University of California Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Goldring, L., Berinstein, C., & Bernhard, J. K. (2009). Institutionalizing precarious migratory status in Canada. Citizenship Studies, 13(3), 239–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Goldring, L., & Joly, M. P. (2014). Immigration, citizenship and racialization at work: unpacking employment precarity in southwestern Ontario. Just Labour: A Canadian Journal of Work and Society, 22(Autumn), 94–121.Google Scholar
  19. Goldring, L., & Landolt, P. (2013). Producing and negotiating non-citizenship: Precarious legal status in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  20. Goutor, D. (2007). Guarding the gates: The Canadian labour movement and immigration (pp. 1872–1934). Vancouver: UBC Press.Google Scholar
  21. Government of Canada. (2018). Annual report to parliament on immigration. Resource document. https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/publications-manuals/annual-report-parliament-immigration-2018/report.html . Accessed January 14, 2019.
  22. Hardwick, S. W., & Mansfield, G. (2009). Discourse, identity and ‘homeland as other’ at the borderlands. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 99(2), 383–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Harrison, J. L., & Lloyd, S. E. (2012). Illegality at work: deportability and the productive new era of immigration enforcement. Antipode, 44(2), 365–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Holgate, J. (2005). Organizing migrant workers: a case study of working conditions and unionization in a London sandwich factory. Work, Employment & Society, 19(3), 463–480.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Holgate, J., Poller, A., Keles, J., & Kumarappan, L. (2011). Geographies of isolation: how workers (don’t) access support for problems at work. Antipode, 43(4), 1078–1101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ikonen, H.-M. (2013). Precarious work, entrepreneurial mindset and sense of place: female strategies in insecure labour markets. Global Discourse, 3(3–4), 467–481.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kalleberg, A. L. (2009). Precarious work, insecure workers: employment relations in transition. American Sociological Review, 74(1), 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kautonen, T., Down, S., Welter, F., Vainio, P., Palmroos, J., Althoff, K., & Kolb, S. (2010). “Involuntary self-employment” as a public policy issue: a cross country European review. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research, 16(2), 112–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kirkness, J., & MacMillan, S. (2018). Ontario government introduces Bill 47 to reverse most of Bill 148. Canadian Labour and Employment Law. https://www.labourandemploymentlaw.com/2018/10/ontario-government-introduces-bill-47-to-reverse-most-of-bill-148/ . Accessed January 23, 2019.
  30. Kosny, A. A., & Lifshen, M. E. (2012). A national scan of employment standards, occupational health and safety and workers’ compensation resources for new immigrants to Canada. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 103(1), 53–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Law Commission of Ontario. (2010). Vulnerable workers and precarious work. Resource document. http://www.lco-cdo.org/en/our-current-projects/vulnerable-workers-and-precarious-work/vulnerable-workers-and-precarious-work-final-report-december-2012/ . Accessed December 17, 2017.
  32. Law Commission of Ontario. (2012). Vulnerable workers and precarious work: Final report. Resource document. http://www.lco-cdo.org/en/our-current-projects/vulnerable-workers-and-precarious-work/vulnerable-workers-and-precarious-work-final-report-december-2012/ . Accessed December 17, 2017.
  33. Lewis, H., & Waite, L. (2015). Asylum, immigration restrictions and exploitation: hyper-precarity as a lens for understanding and tackling forced labour. Anti-Trafficking Review, 5, 49–67.  https://doi.org/10.14197/atr.20121554.
  34. Li, Y. T. (2017). Constituting co-ethnic exploitation: the economic and cultural meanings of cash-in-hand jobs for ethnic Chinese migrants in Australia. Critical Sociology, 43(6), 919–932.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Liebman, A. K., Juarez-Carriollo, P. M., Cruz Reyes, I. A., & Keifer, M. C. (2016). Immigrant dairy workers’ perceptions of health and safety on the farm in America’s heartland. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 59, 227–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. MacKenzie, R., & Forde, C. (2009). The rhetoric of the ‘good worker’ versus the realities of employers’ use and the experiences of migrant workers. Work, Employment and Society, 23(1), 142–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Marsden, S. (2011). Accessing the regulation of temporary foreign workers in Canada. Osgoode Hall Law Journal, 49(1), 39–70.Google Scholar
  38. Marsden, S. (2014). Silence means yes here in Canada: precarious migrants, work and the law. Canadian Labour & Employment Law Journal, 18, 1–38.Google Scholar
  39. Martin, L., & Prokkola, E. K. (2017). Making labour mobile: borders, precarity, and the competitive state in Finnish migration politics. Political Geography, 60, 143–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Mirchandani, K. (2004). Immigrants matter: canada’s social agenda on skill and learning. Convergence, 37(1), 61–68.Google Scholar
  41. Mirchandani, K., Ng, R., Coloma-Moya, N., Maitra, S., Rawlings, T., Shan, H., Siddiqui, K., & Slade, B. L. (2011). The entrenchment of racial categories in precarious employment. In N. Pupo, D. Glenday, & A. Duffy (Eds.), The shifting landscape of work (pp. 119–138). Toronto: Nelson Education Ltd.Google Scholar
  42. Mirchandani, K., Vosko, L. F., Soni-Sinha, U., Perry, J. A., Noack, A. M., Hall, R. J., & Gellatly, M. (2016). Methodological k/nots: designing research on the enforcement of labor standards. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 12(2), 133–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Morrice, L. (2012). Learning and refugees: recognizing the darker side of transformative learning. Adult Education Quarterly, 63(3), 251–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Nkrumah, A. (2018). Immigrants’ transnational entrepreneurial activities: the case of Ghanaian immigrants in Canada. Journal of International Migration and Integration, 19(1), 195–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Noack, A. N, & Vosko, L. F. (2011). Precarious jobs in Ontario: Mapping dimensions of labour market insecurity by workers’ social location and context. Resource document. Law Commission of Ontario . https://www.lco-cdo.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/vulnerable-workers-call-for-papers-noack-vosko.pdf . Accessed December 17, 2017.
  46. Ontario Ministry of Labour. (2017). Employment Standards. https://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/es/. Accessed December 21, 2017.
  47. Perry, J. A. (2012). Barely legal: racism and migrant farm labour in the context of Canadian multiculturalism. Citizenship Studies, 16(2), 189–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Perry, J. A. (2018). Images of work, images of defiance: Engaging migrant farm worker voice through community-based arts. Agriculture and Human Values, Special Issue, 1-14.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10460-018-9861-9.
  49. Pitt, R. S., Sherman, J., & Macdonald, M. E. (2015). Low-income working immigrante families in Quebec: exploring their challenges to well-being. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 106(8), 539–545.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Premji, S., Shakya, Y., Spasevski, M., Merolli, J., Athar, S., & Immigrant Women and Precarious Employment Core Research Group. (2014). Precarious work experiences of racialized immigrant women in Toronto: a community-based study. Just Labour: A Canadian Journal of Work and Society, 22(Autumn), 122–143.Google Scholar
  51. Pupo, N., & Thomas, M. (2010). Interrogating the new economy: Restructuring work in the 21st century. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  52. Rahman, M. M., & Fee, L. K. (2012). Towards a sociology of migrant remittances in Asia: conceptual and methodological challenges. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 38(4), 689–706.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Reitz, J. G. (2001). Immigrant success in the knowledge economy: institutional change and the immigrant experience in Canada, 1970-1995. Journal of Social Issues, 57(3), 579–613.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Rodriguez, N. (2004). “Workers wanted:” employer recruitment of immigrant labor. Work and Occupations, 31(4), 453–473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Satzewich, V. (2015). Points of entry: How Canada’s immigration officers decide who gets in. Vancouver: UBC Press.Google Scholar
  56. Sharma, N. (2006). Home economics: Nationalism and the making of ‘migrant workers’ in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  57. Smith, P. M., & Mustard, C. A. (2009). Comparing the risk of work-related injuries between immigrants to Canada and Canadian-born labour market participants. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 66(6), 361–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Standing, G. (2011). The precariat: The new dangerous class. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  59. Statistics Canada. (2011). Entering immigrants’ perspectives on life in Canada, and social outcomes. Resource document. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/11f0019m/2008319/s10-eng.htm . Accessed December 16, 2017.
  60. Syed, I. U. (2016). Labor exploitation and health inequities among market migrants: a political economy perspective. International Migration & Integration, 17, 449–465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Vosko, L. F. (2000). Temporary work: The gendered rise of a precarious employment relationship. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Vosko, L. F. (2006). Precarious employment: Understanding labour market insecurity in Canada. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queens University Press.Google Scholar
  63. Vosko, L. F., & Thomas, M. (2014). Confronting the employment standards enforcement gap: exploring the potential for union engagement with employment law in Ontario, Canada. Journal of Industrial Relations, 56(5), 631–652.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Vosko, L. F., Tucker, E., Gellatly, M., & Thomas, M. (2011). New approaches to enforcement and compliance with labour regulatory standards: the case of Ontario, Canada. Vosko, Osgoode CLPE Research Paper No. 31/2011. SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1975867 or  https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1975867. Accessed March 15, 2018.
  65. Whiteside, H. (2013). Stabilizing privatization: crisis, enabling fields, and public-private partnerships in Canada. Alternate Routes: A Journal of Critical Social Research, 24, 85–108.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nova Scotia Centre on AgingMount Saint Vincent UniversityHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and CriminologyUniversity of WindsorWindsorCanada
  3. 3.Department of Human Studies / Labour StudiesLaurentian UniversitySudburyCanada

Personalised recommendations