TFW program fines are a smokescreen

Harper Government doesn’t use existing measures to combat abuse

Edmonton – The legislation to impose large fines on employers who abuse the Temporary Foreign Worker program is a smokescreen to distract voters who are uneasy with the program.

The as-yet undefined ‘large fines’ were announced on Friday, but the Alberta Federation of Labour notes that there are existing punishments for abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker program – punishments that are never meted out.

“This is just like the ‘Employer Blacklist’ that Jason Kenney trumpeted about. How many employers have been put on that blacklist? None.” Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. “Are any of the 200 employers who stole from the TFWs they hired on the blacklist? Nope. Is Pacer-Promec Joint Venture on the list for firing Canadians to make room for TFWs? Nope. Should Canadians have any confidence that these ‘large fines’ will ever be imposed on companies that break the law? Definitely not.”

The new measures are expected to be in budget legislation tabled late on Friday afternoon, and will be implemented sometime in 2015. There isn’t sufficient staff, however, to monitor or police the program.

“The only way that abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker program ever comes to light is through individual workers coming forward and going to the media, or through the research of journalists, activists and non-governmental organizations,” McGowan said. “And it seems the only punishment for abusing the system is doled out by news organizations acting in the best interest of Canadians.”

In the wake of a series of scandals that have seen Canadians losing their jobs to exploited and underpaid workers from overseas, the Federal government has made it more difficult for journalists and researchers to access information on the Temporary Foreign Worker program. If the Harper Government was serious about curbing abuses of the program, they would start by publishing a ‘Sunshine List,’ letting Canadians know which employers are using the program.

“Openness and transparency are what’s needed, but that’s not what Canadians are getting,” McGowan said. “They’re promising big stiff penalties that they assure us will be doled out to all the bad guys abusing the program. But at the same time, they’re putting the program behind a curtain of obfuscation. This announcement of stiff penalties is just part of the smokescreen.”



Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780-218-9888 (cell)

Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.289.6528 (cell)
or via e-mail
[email protected]

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