Invisibilized Temporary Foreign Workers: International Experience Canada and Irish Employment-Related Mobilities to Canada

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 08:45
Oral Presentation
Jane HELLEINER, Brock University, Canada
Youth-oriented “Working Holiday” programs have recently been identified as significant conduits for flows of transnational labour mobility in and out of wealthy countries. Most of the research on this kind of labour mobility has come from Australia where Working Holiday programs funnel incoming temporary foreign labour to particular regions and sectors said to experience ongoing labour shortages. In the case of Canada, “Working Holiday” mobilities are organized through International Experience Canada (IEC). International Experience Canada is the largest sub-category of the International Mobility Program (IMP) that is responsible for more temporary foreign workers in Canada than the officially named Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Unlike Australian Working Holiday arrivals however, most IEC Working Holiday visa holders arrive in Canada with “open” work permits free of spatial or occupational constraint and most end up finding employment in Canada’s largest cities. While serving as an important conduit for transnational labour mobility to Canada, International Experience Canada remains relatively invisible as a source of temporary foreign workers and has received limited scholarly attention. Drawing on initial and follow up interviews with white Irish holders of IEC Working Holiday visas working in Toronto, this paper examines how International Experience Canada shaped their employment-related mobilities to Canada and how their two-year visa and open work permit combined with a racialized Toronto labour market to produce both precarity and privilege in job searches and in the workplace.