The Political Justification of Migrant Workers in Alberta, Canada

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Considering a series of oil-driven economic booms, the use of inter-provincial and international migrant labour has become an important part of labour market policy in the Canadian province of Alberta. The increased use of temporary foreign workers is controversial. Narrative analysis of legislators' statements in the legislature and the press between 2000 and 2011 reveals the government using three narratives to justify policies encouraging greater use of foreign migrant workers: (1) labour shortages require migrant workers, (2) migrants do not threaten Canadian jobs and (3) migrants are not being exploited. Close scrutiny of each narrative demonstrates them to be largely invalid. This suggests a significant disconnect between the real and espoused reasons for the significant changes to labour market policy, changes that advantage employers and disadvantage both Canadian and foreign workers. The findings are relevant to understand the political dynamics of economically related migration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-370
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of International Migration and Integration
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2014


  • Alberta
  • Canada
  • Foreign workers
  • Migrant workers
  • Policy


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