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Study: Foreign nationals working temporarily in Canada

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While Canada continues to be a country of immigration, there are a growing number of foreign nationals that come to Canada on a temporary basis. They are termed non-permanent residents.

In 2006, there were 230,000 non-permanent residents aged 15 and over. Of these, over 112,000 were working in Canada at the time of the 2006 Census and about 84% worked full time, more than double the number in 1996.

Temporary workers are admitted to Canada to address specific labour shortages, to facilitate the transfer of staff within multinational companies and to fulfil Canada's obligations under international trade agreements. Other non-permanent residents that may be permitted to work include foreign students attending a Canadian institution and refugee claimants.

While they constitute less than 1% of all full-time workers in Canada, non-permanent residents play an important role in the labour market in some regions, sectors and occupations.

In 2006, non-permanent residents accounted for more than 20% of people employed full time as a nanny or parent's helper, as well as 14% of postsecondary teaching and research assistants, 9% of harvesting labourers, 8% of nursery workers and 6% of physicists and astronomers.

Most settle in the census metropolitan areas (CMA) of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. Almost one-third of non-permanent resident workers lived in the CMA of Toronto in 2006, 15% in Montréal and nearly 13% in Vancouver.

Most are young and the majority, male. They come to Canada from a wide variety of countries for a number of reasons, under a variety of programs, and they constitute a diverse group.

Women who are non-permanent residents and work full time are most often in caregiving and domestic work. In 2006, most women in these occupations were from the Philippines.

Non-permanent resident males, especially those from Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, were more often employed in the agricultural industry.

Note: The article, "Foreign nationals working temporarily in Canada," examines characteristics of the more than 94,000 enumerated non-permanent residents who were working full time in Canada at the time of the 2006 Census. Data came from the census and Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3901.

The article "Foreign nationals working temporarily in Canada" is now available in the June 2010 online issue of Canadian Social Trends, no. 90 (11-008-X, free), available from the Key resource module of our website under Publications.

Also in this issue of Canadian Social Trends are two other articles: "Making fathers count" and "Migration from central to surrounding municipalities in Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver."

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Client Services (613-951-5979;, Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division.