Author: Anna

The rise of temporary foreign workers in hospitals

The rise of temporary foreign workers in hospitals

‘It’s going to bankrupt health care’: Spending on temp agency nurses up more than 550% since pre-pandemic at one Toronto hospital network. The nurses are making $8.20 an hour. As the world’s largest group of temp workers across Canada, temps have now been the main target of public health policy in Canada and around the world as governments seek to rein in the spiraling costs of working. This week, there’s also been a global call for a universal basic income, and the New York Times reported that temporary foreign workers are being used as a “sink” for undocumented workers who don’t live within Canada’s borders.

A Toronto hospital is offering more temp agency nurses — some on temporary visas, others from immigration centres, some with U.S.-issued student visas — to fill in for hospital workers who have been furloughed or are caring for the critically ill.

“The idea is that we can reduce the amount of sicker patients who have to be on the floor while we have a crisis,” said Dr. David Foy, the chief of staff at Toronto Western Hospital, which is the largest employer of nurses in Canada.

This is just one hospital system in Canada, though — one that is using the power of temporary foreign workers. It’s a trend that has surfaced in hospitals in Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec, among other countries.

Temporary foreign workers are also used in fields such as engineering, construction, forestry, and mining. Their work is often temporary, and their hours may be erratic. They start as the cheapest workers in the cheapest fields, but as companies need to pay high wages for unskilled labourers or temp workers, that starts to cost them in terms of turnover and job turnover. Workers in unstable industries or in precarious jobs have been at higher risk for injuries and illnesses.

In 2013, the Ontario government introduced the Employment Standards Act to deal with precarious employment. The government was worried about having unqualified foreign workers take jobs it had created. The law requires employers that employ temporary foreign workers to have an employment standards officer look at their work visa and assess whether it is appropriate.

In Ontario, the Eso said that more than 30,000 temporary foreign workers were in the province in 2012

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