AFL vows to make Fort McMurray by-election a referendum on the TFW Program

AFL vows to make Fort McMurray by-election a referendum on the TFW Program

FORT MCMURRAY – The leader of Alberta’s largest labour organization is urging voters in Fort McMurray-Athabasca to send government a clear message about Canadian jobs on June 30.

At a media availability in Fort McMurray on Wednesday, May 21, Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan described the byelection as a unique opportunity to let the Harper Government know that it can’t continue to allow the Temporary Foreign Worker program to undermine workers rights and wages.

“Let's make this byelection a referendum on the Temporary Foreign Worker program,” McGowan said. “Fort McMurray is ground zero for the use and abuse of this program. It’s here that the program has been used to displace Canadians and it's here the program is being used by too many employers to suppress wage. The by-election presents Fort McMurray voters with a golden opportunity to tell the Harper government 'enough is enough' and send them back to the drawing board."

The election was called last week in the wake of the resignation of long-time Conservative MP Brian Jean, who stepped down in January. In the race to replace Jean are New Democrat candidate Lori McDaniel, Liberal candidate Kyle Harrietha, and Conservative candidate David Yurdiga, whose party is most responsible for the expansion of the Temporary Foreign Worker program.

“The government should not be in the business of keeping wages low,” McGowan said. “Voters in Fort McMurray-Athabasca can send the message that they’re willing to put them out of that business.”

Over the past decade, the Temporary Foreign Worker program has ballooned, going from fewer than 200,000 when the Conservatives took power in 2006, to more than 350,000 today. Most of the growth of the program has been in the oil sector and in low-wage jobs. Alberta has the highest per-capita use of the Temporary Foreign Worker program, with more than 85,000 working in the province.

“As the evidence has mounted showing what a disaster this program is for Canadians and migrants alike, the Conservative government has talked big about cracking down on the Temporary Foreign Worker program. But every time, they back away from any type of real reform,” McGowan said. “They seem to approach TFW scandals by asking themselves ‘What’s the least we could do?’ and ‘How many loopholes can we create?’”

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MEDIA CONTACT:

Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.289.6528 (cell)
or via e-mail
orokne@afl.org

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G:\Communications\NEWS\AFL\2014\2014-22_Labour leaders and migrant worker activists slam Kenney’s mishandling of TFW scandal_2014May15.docx


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