AFL decries further watering-down of checks and balances of Temporary Foreign Worker Program

For immediate release

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

AFL decries further watering-down of checks and balances of Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Canadians should get first crack at high-paying jobs

EDMONTON - The Alberta Federation of Labour is deeply concerned about the Harper government’s further watering down of checks and balances of the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program.

“Canadians should get first crack at these jobs. But the Harper government is more interested in the bottom line of their friends in the non-union construction sector,” says Nancy Furlong, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alberta Federation of Labour, representing 150,000 Alberta workers.

Furlong made these comments in light of Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announcing his intent to expand an Alberta pilot project that allows employers to recruit foreign workers without attempting to fill the positions with Canadians first. Kenney is also allowing employers to hire TFWs without having to report anything about where they are working. There will also be fewer safeguards against abuses, despite the fact that the previous TFW rules, even with their weak safeguards, has been found to be ripe with worker rip-offs, poor working conditions, and unscrupulous recruiters charging TFWs illegal fees.

“Foreign workers are supposed to receive comparable wages and working conditions as Canadians, but there are no real mechanisms in place to ensure this happens. Once the foreign workers are in the province, they work at the whim of their employer,” says Furlong noting that a 2010 Government of Alberta report found that 74% of employers who hired workers under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program had violated the Employment Standards Act regarding pay rates and record keeping.

“Under this program, employers don’t have to show that they’ve made any attempts to fill these jobs with Canadians first. Kenney's latest move makes the Temporary Foreign Worker program an employer's first choice, not last resort.

"The result is employers can use these workers in ways that Canadians might not tolerate,” says Furlong. “Once a foreign worker is brought in under this program, they can be moved around willy-nilly at the behest of the employer or employers who brought them in.”

The AFL is repeating the call to expand permanent immigration in order to address shortages that may exist in Alberta in select trades. The Alberta Federation of Labour has long held the position that the TFW program should be scrapped in favour of an immigration policy that brings in new Canadians in order to build our economy in a sustainable way.

“This is not about a labour shortage, it's a low-wage strategy. This is mostly designed to give companies access to a big pool of non-union construction labour that is desperate for work.”


For more information:

·         Nancy Furlong, Secretary Treasurer, Alberta Federation of Labour (780) 720-8945

TC:lmr*cope458  G:\Communications\NEWS\AFL\2012\2012-27 TFW

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