Is Canada’s Temporary Foreign Workers Program increasing measles outbreaks?

There are more than 340,000 temporary foreign workers currently in Canada, many are doing jobs which unemployed Canadians are certainly qualified to do, such as cleaning hotel rooms, flipping burgers or working a cash register. It’s clear that Canada’s Temporary Foreign Workers Program is keeping wages low and Canadians unemployed. However, slightly less clear is the answer to the following question… Is abuse of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program increasing Canadians odds of catching the measles?

The number of temporary foreign workers has drastically increased over the past decade and many of them are from the Philippines where there is about 20,000 cases of measles already this year. Many media reports have linked recent Measles outbreaks in Canada & the USA specifically to the Philippines. One such example from The Star in February of this year reads, “a widespread outbreak in the Philippines that reportedly killed more than two dozen children last year seems to be slowly spreading to Canada.”

The Star article goes on to say “It is the sixth imported case of measles in Canada so far this year, all linked to visits to the Philippines.”

The Public Health Agency Of Canada says that indigenous measles was eliminated from Canada and the last endemic case of measles was reported in 1997. They confirm that “measles cases in Canada in recent years have been due to importation from endemic regions, some resulting in outbreaks”.

While the link is certainly not conclusive, since 2006 Harper and his so-called Conservatives have ensured the number of temporary foreign workers coming to Canada has skyrocketed, and the number of incidents of measles has also increased. In 2005 Canada had only 0.02 incidence of measles per 100,000 people and in 2006 it was only 0.04 per 100,000. 5 years later the numbers are much higher with 0.29 per 100,000 in 2010 and 2.17 per 100,000 in 2011 when Quebec experienced a large outbreak. To be fair, 2009 did see only 0.04 cases per 100,000 but The Public Health Agency of Canada has issued a warning that there have been a higher-than-usual number of measles cases in Canada since the start of 2014.

People like to blame the outbreaks on people who choose not to vaccinate. This is misguided blame, unless the unvaccinated person traveled to the Philippines or another endemic region. Anyone traveling to the Philippines should strongly consider vaccination before travel because of the high rate of infection. That said, vaccination does not guarantee immunity, keep in mind that health officials admit the MMR vaccine is not effective in at least 10-20% of the population, so even vaccinated people traveling to the Philippines have a significantly increased risk of catching the measles. In fact, based on current infection rates, a fully vaccinated person in the Philippines has a higher chance of infection than a person lacking vaccination in Canada.

How much has Canada’s Temporary Foreign Workers Program increased the number of measles outbreaks? A specific answer is unknown, but with the high percentage of Canadian & US measles cases linked to the Philippines, perhaps it’s a question we should be asking.

Written by Alternative Free Press
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