Temporary foreign workers fear for future as deadline arrives

WATCH: Time has run out for tens of thousands of temporary foreign workers. The Harper government changed the rule of the program and their work permits ran out on Wednesday. Reid Fiest reports.

Alvin Resurreccion has only seen his wife, daughter and son once in the last six years, since moving from the Philippines to Canada as temporary foreign worker.

He sends them half $1,500 he earns, on a monthly basis, from a Calgary McDonald’s restaurant.

“I’m only the one sending money to them,” Resurreccion told Global News. “That’s why I keep working hard here, for six years [now]. So it’s scary.”

He’s afraid his time in Canada is up.

Resurreccion is one of an estimated 70,000 temporary foreign workers whose permits expired on Wednesday. But, many are hoping they won’t be forced to leave.

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READ MORE: Deadline day for temporary foreign workers to leave Canada

“Because I have a dream for my kids,” Ressureccion said. “This is not for me. This is for my kids.”

Canada changed the rules for the program in 2001, setting a four-year limit for the temporary foreign workers who fill low-skilled jobs across the country.

Calgary immigration lawyer Peter Wong says he has dozens of clients whose permits have expired.

Many of them have applied for permanent residency, but few have been granted it, or still waiting for an answer.

Wong said he’s helping clients file extensions, to help prevent being thrown out of Canada. But, not many will be successful in staying.

“We have options. We’ll look at different thing to do for workers, but it is grim,” Wong said. “I won’t overestimate the chances at this point.”

The government stands by the changes, saying they’re protecting Canadian workers.

“The purpose of the [temporary foreign workers] program is to find employees where a Canadian can’t be found to fill that job,” Conservative Member of Parliament Costas Menegakis, also the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, said during question period in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
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Other says this exodus of foreign workers could hurt businesses that are struggling to fill lower-paying service positions – jobs many Canadians aren’t applying for.

“For the public, this may mean a reduction in the hours of service… especially in smaller cities and communities,” said Richard Truscott of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’ Richard Truscott.communities.”

Critics say some workers could be forced underground by the rules, but that’s a choice most don’t want to make. They just want to remain in Canada.

“I want to stay here,” Resurreccion said.