Temporary Foreign Worker Program Approvals Based on Shoddy Data

Outdated, Inaccurate and Biased Wage Info Allows Businesses to Drive Down Canadian Wages

Edmonton – The wage data used by government officials to determine which Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) applications to approve is deeply flawed, documents uncovered by the Alberta Federation of Labour show.

In order to be approved to hire workers through the TFWP, businesses must first prove that they are paying wages that are appropriate to their local labour market. The documents – recently obtained and verified by the AFL under a Freedom of Information request – list prevailing wage rates in regions across the country in 11 different occupations from 2009-2014. They show that permits were issued based on data that was at times eight years out of date, from diverse and non-comparable data sources. 

“The decision to let a business bring in a temporary foreign worker is a decision to let them pass over any Canadian who might want that job. It’s a decision that can harm careers, can hurt families, and can wreck lives,” Alberta Federation of Labour secretary treasurer and acting president Siobhán Vipond said. “If you’re making a decision with those kinds of real-world consequences, you need to base your decision on good information. It’s clear from these documents that approvals have been made on badly outdated information at best, and complete nonsense at worst.”

According to government regulations, a business must be approved for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or Labour Market Opinion (LMO) before they are allowed to hire through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. These assessments are supposed to ensure that businesses hire qualified Canadian workers.

“When businesses are allowed to make an end run around the labour market, it undermines the rights of all workers,” Vipond said.

The wage documents indicate that some LMIAs and LMOs were issued based on information from Labour Force Surveys from 2010-2012, others based on Employment Insurance numbers in 2006. In some instances, the 2001 census is cited as the source of the data. In many cases, no data source is cited.

“These are decisions made from 2009-2014, so I have no clue why they thought 2001 census data is still relevant,” Vipond said. “You try balancing your books on 10-year-old wages – it doesn’t work. And neither does this.”

The 11 National Occupation Codes (NOCs) that were examined by the AFL are NOC 7231 Machinists and Machining and Tooling Inspectors, NOC 7232 Tool and Die Makers, NOC 7241 Electricians (Except Industrial and Power Systems), NOC 7242 Industrial Electricians, NOC 7243 Power System Electricians, NOC 7251 Plumbers, NOC 7252 Steamfitters, Pipefitters and Sprinkler System Installers, NOC 7253 Gas Fitters, NOC 7264 Ironworkers, NOC 7265 Welders and Related Machine Operators, and NOC 7271 Carpenters.

“The TFW program is so flawed that we believe it should be scrapped and replaced with immigration instead of exploitation,” Vipond said. “If we need people to come to build this country, then we should give them the rights that come with that; instead these programs are being used by businesses to drive down wages and conditions of work.”

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Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.218.4351 (cell)
or via e-mail [email protected]


Attachments:  Alberta Prevailing Wage Rates, Part 1

                      Alberta Prevailing Wage Rates, Part 2



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