Are migrants the answer to labour shortages?

Borders & Belonging

Feb 22 2023 • 44 mins

Nations in the global North are struggling with labour shortages dubbed in the media as ‘the great retirement' and ‘the great resignation'. Unemployment rates are running at near-record lows. As a result many nations are letting more temporary migrant labourers in to fill the gaps. Is this a good idea?

In this episode we'll hear from someone on the frontlines in the fight for migrant workers’ rights: Syed Hussan, executive director of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, a group in Toronto, Canada, that comprises farmworkers, domestic workers and refugees, many of them are undocumented.

Then host Maggie Prezyna speaks with two experts will share insights on the complexity of the labour shortage and how the migrant labour piece fits into the economic puzzle. Armine Yalnizyan is an economist and Atkinson Foundation Fellow on the Future of Workers, a regular media contributor and adviser on economic policy to the Canadian government. And Martin Ruhs, is the Professor of Migration Studies and deputy director of the Migration Policy Center at the European University Institute in Florence. He is a migration policy advisor for various governments and international institutions.

Maggie is a researcher with the Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Migration & Integration program at Toronto Metropolitan University and this new podcast is Borders & Belonging. Maggie will talk to leading experts from around the world and people with on-the-ground experience to explore the individual experiences of migrants: the difficult decisions and many challenges they face on their journeys.

She and her guests will also think through the global dimensions of migrants’ movement: the national policies, international agreements, trends of war, climate change, employment and more.

Borders & Belonging brings together hard evidence with stories of human experience to kindle new thinking in advocacy, policy and research.

Top researchers contribute articles that complement each podcast with a deeper dive into the themes discussed.

Borders & Belonging is a co-production between the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration & Integration at Toronto Metropolitan University and openDemocracy. The podcast was produced by LEAD Podcasting, Toronto, Ontario.

Show notes

Below, you will find links to all the research referenced by our guests, as well as other resources you may find useful.

Art and documentary

El Contrato’, by Min Sook Lee, National Film Board (2003)

Migrant Dreams’, by Min Sook Lee, Cinema Politica (2016)

This is Evidence: Re-picturing South Asian migrant men in Greece’, exhibit curated by Reena Kukreja (2019)

Donate or get involved!

Migrant Rights Alliance for Change


Canada and the U.S. both face labor shortages. One country is increasing immigration’, by Julia Ainsley, Joel Seidman and Didi Martinez, NBC News (7 January 2023)

Contending with the pandemic, wealthy nations wage global