The Recruitment of Canadians – a Northerner’s Perspective

In the past few years, American recruiters have been “flocking” to the Canadian universities, job fairs, and open houses, taking advantage of the relative ease of the free trade agreement to recruit Canadian talented professionals into the USA’s currently tight job market. Under the free trade agreement that Canada and the United States have shared since 1989, 63 types of professionals are allowed to relocate on a year to year basis. Most of the 63 professions are highly male dominated, scientific or academic categories, resulting in most of the recruited professionals being male. The wives of these professionals will often not qualify in their own right in one of the allowed professions. The minor sons and daughters of these same professionals will never qualify. After an international move from Canada to the United States (or vice versa), the professional is called a Trade National (TN). The spouse and children are called Trade Dependents (TDs). A very over looked and often trivialized fact of the free trade regulations is that the rest of the family will not be allowed employment in the USA – no matter how dire the circumstance – unless they also happen to be one of the professionals on the NAFTA list. It is more than a significant challenge for a modern and equal family unit from a democratic country to be suddenly subjected to the imbalance of power that a single income household generates. Most of these families being recruited have no idea what the ramifications of unemployment and the imbalance of financial power will be to the other members of the family. Like all sales people everywhere, the recruiters going to the Canadian universities, job fairs and open houses generally emphasize the positive aspects of the potential move. The recruiters will talk about the salary offered, the benefit package, the ease of relocation from Canada to the US under NAFTA, warmer weather and attractions in the American city that they want the professional to move to. Rarely is there a mention of any of the issues that will confront the rest of the family after such a move. The companies and recruiters attending any recruitment venue in Canada have an ethical and moral responsibility to warn the family of the potential circumstances if the entire family moves. All of the potential issues are far too numerous to explain in detail here. However, due to the imbalance of financial power and the unemployment (that is often unexpected), hundreds of families have suffered in their own unique ways. Mathematically, we can expect domestic abuse to significantly increase. Family units have fractured when one or more of the family members have had all that they can take of this obsolete lifestyle thrust upon them. On a single salary, sometimes less than initially promised, many of these families – as much as they would like to go home – have little choice but to stay while they save money towards the moving bill to go. If the couple has teen-age kids, they can expect the teenagers to return to Canada at a very young age to live with extended family while they attend high school or university. As these young people will never have the opportunity to even legally flip a burger along side their new American friends, the only way that they will achieve semi-independence (a natural part of human development) is if they return to Canada with or without their parents. Some of the more astute families have chosen to have the professional person in the family commute on a weekly basis to the job in the USA, leaving the family unit in Canada and returning each weekend for a visit. This allows the spouse to continue working in their job, the children to continue attending their local schools and the family to stay in a familiar environment in their own home. This option eliminates the problem of unemployment for the rest of the family and often results in the employment position for the professional to be a truly temporary one – as the NAFTA meant the jobs to be. The corporations and recruiters continue to seek out Canadian professionals for jobs south of the 49th parallel. In a tight job market with job candidates scarce for all levels of employment, it is only natural that the companies begin to look further afield for the talent that they need. What better place to look for the talent than Canada? Canadians and Americans share a similar culture, speak the same language (with slight linguistic differences), share a similar education system and the countries are in close geographical proximity to each other. A question that has been asked of me time and time again is whether or not the recruiters realize the underlying issues to what they are so actively promoting. Many recruiters encourage the families to uproot and move internationally to the USA, knowing very well that the complex American immigration laws are stacked against the rest of the family. However, a vast majority of the recruiters have no idea what the family unit will endure after the move. Having faith in human nature, I believe that most recruiters would inform the families to some of the issues if they were aware of them. My main goal while writing, publishing and promoting my two books and hosting my web site has been to allow Canadian families the opportunity of making an informed and educated decision of whether or not to accept the wonderful offers being made to them. Each and every North American family should have this right. Our politicians, bureaucrats and lawyers in both countries have not been forthcoming with the vital information. As a result of my work, many Canadians have thought twice or three times about moving to the USA under the NAFTA. The ones who have chosen to relocate afterwards are armed with the power of knowledge to prepare themselves for some of the potential problems. A few of these families have followed my advice and signed a pre-NAFTA contract between themselves and with the company in the event that things go awry. My work is my public service to Americans and Canadians alike. Just like Canadians, Americans are not thrilled to have American jobs go to foreigners – even Canadian ones during times of very low unemployment rates. Canadians must be aware of the issues so that their decision is the right one for their particular family.

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