6,096 people were granted a temporary foreign worker (TFW) visa in Canada last year, the highest figure since 2006, according to Statistics Canada data.
That was a record high for this year, with the number of TFWs in the country jumping from 2,079 in 2014 to 2,113 in 2015.
The numbers were a sign of how quickly the number was rising.
In the year to June, the number had climbed to about 7,000.
And the number is expected to keep rising in the coming months.
The increase is partly due to more people seeking TFW visas than at any time since 2006.
In 2015, the TFW visa was issued to an estimated 2.2 million people.
“We’re expecting to see a substantial increase in TFW applications,” said Paul-Olivier Bérubé, an immigration lawyer in Toronto.
“There are more people looking for TFW status than there were two years ago, so it’s been an upward trend.”
The TFW program was designed to help people bring their skills to Canada.
It has been a boon for businesses in recent years.
Since 2015, Canada has seen a surge in immigration from Asia and Africa.
The number of people coming to Canada in the past year was up 30 per cent, according for the first time.
The country was also home to the highest numbers of foreign students studying in Canada.
As the number rises, there is an increasing concern about the program’s long-term sustainability.
While the program was originally meant to be temporary, it was expanded in 2017 to include a three-year term, which means it is set to expire in 2021.
In 2019, Canada will be the first country to begin a new phase of the program, called a “long-term temporary visa”.
That means the program will end in 2022.
That means Canadians will be able to apply for a longer period of time, even though they are no longer in Canada for three years.
“It’s not just about the numbers,” said Bérbé.
“You’re dealing with the quality of the applicants, as well as the risk of not being able to come to Canada and then getting a temporary visa.”
Canada has seen an influx of skilled labour in recent decades.
More than half of the total number of new permanent residents are from China, followed by India, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea.
But the country also has an estimated 15,000 people from Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America, many of whom work in Canada to earn money.
“The reality is that we have a very skilled labour market in Canada, and that is the reason why TFW has been so successful in attracting workers to Canada,” said Andrew Langer, a professor at the University of Ottawa who studies migration.
“The question is, do you want that labour to come with the risk that it could be exploited by employers or will they be able and willing to accept that risk?”
Bérube said the TFF program is designed to be a temporary fix.
But many workers don’t realize it, and it is not always easy to avoid.
“Many TFW workers are working for employers that have no intention of seeing them for a period of three years,” he said.
“A lot of TFP workers are not able to prove that they’re eligible for a TFW.”
The problem is that the process is complex.
Most TFW employers have an incentive to hire Canadians, but they also have an interest in seeing TFW-workers in Canada stay.
They are worried about the possibility that their workers could become victims of trafficking, which is a crime in Canada and can carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Bérbée said the majority of TFWs in Canada are young, educated, skilled workers.
There is also evidence that they may not be in the best shape physically.
“They’re not in their prime working years, so they’re not ready to leave,” said Langer.
“That means they don’t have the skills, and they’re susceptible to exploitation.”
A common way that TFW companies avoid the need to hire workers is by offering workers a better deal than those offered to Canadian-born workers.
The government has made it easier for employers to offer better terms than to TFW firms.
It is now a crime to refuse to hire TFW, and companies are required to report any employment agreements.
But Bérabé said there is a downside to the program: workers often don’t even realize that they are being asked to leave the country.
“A lot more workers don, in fact, realize that their employment agreement has been terminated,” he added.