Some of the Biggies in the Ontario development industry are stepping forward, and asking that the Feds reconsider their plan to deport several thousand illegal Portuguese immigrants. They are worried about the adverse effects this move may have on the GTA labor market for construction workers. From Today's TO Star:
A prominent GTA developer has condemned the federal government for wanting to toss "honest, hard-working" illegal immigrants from Portugal and other countries out of Canada.
"There is definitely a shortage of workers in the construction industry right now, and it doesn't matter-- from road building to plumber to bricklayers-- there is a shortage," Silvio De Gasperis told the Toronto Star yesterday.
"This process should be stopped until they get a chance to review and assess the entire situation," said De Gasperis, one of the country's largest private developers. "Maybe if they did they would realize that the good families, the honest people, should be staying and working."
It has been estimated that there are between 10,000 and 15,000 illegal immigrants working in southern Ontario's construction and hospitality industries; some estimates put the number of undocumented workers across the country as high as 300,000.
Neither the federal immigration department nor Immigration Minister Monte Solberg's office would comment yesterday on whether the government would consider any kind of regularization program. On Monday, Solberg called it "a low priority."
A Star report this week expressed concerns by immigration lawyers and consultants that illegal workers were being deported as the Conservatives abandon Liberal moves toward an amnesty plan.
The deportations threaten to rock Canada's booming construction industry. Construction represents 9.5 per cent of Canada's total Gross Domestic Product and 7.5 per cent of Ontario's alone, according to figures from the Greater Toronto Home Builders' Association.
TheStar.com - Don't deport `honest' workers: Builder
I agree with M. DeGasperis on this issue with regards to delaying the process, mostly for purely economic reasons. The GTA construction/housing industry is in something just short of a Boom at the moment. Labor costs are going up and removing several thousand hands from the mix will makes things that much worse. The economic stakes are fairly high.
And I wonder if this is a problem anywhere else than in Toronto/Ontario? Specifically, are there large pockets of illegal Portuguese construction workers in other large urban areas that may also be affected? And, therefore, will this be a story in other cities? I have seen no coverage other than in the TO Dailies.
Politically, this will mushroom if the development community as a whole raises a stink. Furthermore, Canadians will get a chance to see the (more or less) white faces of crying Portuguese children as they are hauled aboard the plane bound for Lisbon, and will decide that this is hardly the place to begin any crackdown on illegal immigration.