Myths about foreign workers

Re: "Foreign worker hiring fast-tracked; Employers in six trades won't have to consider Canadians first," the Journal, July 17.

Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, is spreading myths about temporary foreign workers.

He asserts foreign workers will become a first-choice option for employers. The reality is that even with the welcomed fast-track reforms announced by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, many federal and provincial checks and balances remain. The process continues to be more expensive and takes considerably more time than it does to hire a Canadian.

In short, temporary foreign workers have been and will continue to be recruited as a last resort.

A second myth is temporary foreign workers are a cheap source of labour that drags down wages and jobs. Statistics Canada reports that Alberta workers continue to be the best compensated in Canada, 19 per cent above the national average.

Another myth is that Canadians are not being trained. McGowan reportedly states that half the companies looking for workers do not have apprenticeship training.

In June, Statistics Canada reported that registrations in apprenticeship programs reached their highest level ever in Canada. One out of every four certified tradespeople in Canada is trained by an Alberta employer. That shows a commitment by government and industry to train Albertans first.

The federal government should be applauded, not chastised, for bringing in much-needed reforms to recruit workers of last resort from outside Canada.

The Edmonton Journal, July 23 2012
Letter to the Editor: Bill Stewart, vice-president, Merit Contractors Association, Edmonton

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