This is a huge issue in our region as well. We are an agricultural hub. The number of temporary foreign workers we have is unknown, but estimates are at about 500, at the very least, and they're unseen, other than on the occasional shopping trip in the area.
I would like to see the definition broadened of who can access funded settlement services for temporary foreign workers. For our employers here in particular, we've had to help advocate for them to be able to keep their temporary foreign workers, and we've kind of stepped in to direct them to resources and the appropriate channels for them to apply for permanent residency for these temporary foreign workers.
It's not just that they come, but they leave and don't come back. Some of these people have been coming for decades to do that work. If they were given the opportunity to permanently settle in the area with their families, they would like to.
You hear stories from time to time about things that can happen that are quite atrocious, but for the most part, I think things continue on quite well and there are quite diligent employers. I do think there needs to be better monitoring of what's happening in these areas and then access to support and legal information—it's difficult to navigate and very expensive—so that employers can know the appropriate channels to go about applying for permanent residency. There also needs to be some sort of funding or federal support for that.