Relaxed Foreign Worker Rules Will Lead to More Abuse of System, says AFL

The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) responded to Citizenship and Immigration Minister Monte Solberg's announcement this morning that the federal government will be relaxing rules for the importing of temporary foreign workers by predicting it will lead to greater abuse of the system, more exploitation of foreign workers, and suppression of wages in Alberta.

"In Conservative-speak, 'streamlining' is shorthand for 'let employers do what they want'. I do not trust Harper's government to protect either the foreign workers coming to Canada or to ensure Canadian workers are not pushed aside," observes AFL President Gil McGowan.

"The plans to make it easier for employers to bring in temporary foreign workers will lead to more abuses of the system," says McGowan. "Employers will turn to foreign workers as an initial solution, rather than as a means of last resort."

Under current rules, each employer must prove an inability to find Canadian workers available to do the job before becoming eligible to import foreign workers. Under the proposed plan, regional lists of occupations will replace the burden of proof.

"The proposed plan removes the checks-and-balances. It opens the door to employers who want to bring in foreign workers just to keep wage rates down, or because Canadian workers might know their rights and demand they be respected."

McGowan states that today's announcement signals the government has given up on trying to improve training and education of Canadian workers to ensure needed skills are available. "Their one and only strategy for solving labour market difficulties is bring in more vulnerable workers."

McGowan expresses concern for how the rights of temporary foreign workers will be protected. "The government is developing a guide specifically for employers. What about a guide for workers coming to Canada telling them their rights?"

"The end result of this announcement is an up and a down. The up will be a dramatic increase in the number of vulnerable foreign workers at risk of exploitation. The down will be average wage levels in Alberta � for that is the primary motivation of importing temporary foreign workers.

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For more Information:

Gil McGowan, President   Tel: (780) 483-3021         Cell: (780) 218-9888

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