MLAs must stand up for LGBTQ Students

AFL calls on legislature to approve bill to promote Gay-Straight Alliances

Edmonton – The Alberta Federation of Labour is calling on MLAs from across all parties to support Bill 202, a private-members bill that would require school boards to accommodate students seeking to form gay-straight alliances in their schools.

Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman’s bill, the Safe and Inclusive Schools Statutes Amendment Act, which is expected to hit the legislature today, will help build healthier communities for Alberta students and could save lives.

“The Alberta Federation of Labour proudly stands by the LGBTQ community and supports all measures that help to make this province a more inclusive and safe place to be for all Albertans,” Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. “When Bill 202 comes up for debate, I encourage all MLAs to support it to help make our schools safe spaces for all students, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.”

A recent report funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) found that Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) can contribute to the reduction of suicidal thoughts and attempts among both LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ students. Suicidal thoughts amongst LGBTQ students were reduced by more than half and non-LGBTQ boys were half as likely to attempt suicide when schools had GSAs.

“Gay-Straight Alliances are proven to deter bullying, promote positive communities for all students—now there’s evidence to suggest they even save young lives,” McGowan said. “There is simply no good reason for our elected representatives to restrict students from organizing themselves into more positive and inclusive communities. Albertans are accepting and supportive of the LGBTQ community. It’s time for provincial representatives to reflect those values.”

The University of British Columbia’s press release on the CIHR-funded report can be downloaded here:
http://news.ubc.ca/2014/01/20/gay-straight-alliances-in-schools-reduce-suicide-risk-for-all-students/

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MEDIA CONTACT:

Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.218.4351 (cell)

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November 2014: Parkland Conference: People vs. Profiteers; Energy East wrong type of petroleum infrastructure; Immigration – and TFWP – must remain a federal responsibility; did you k...

Urgent Action

People versus Profiteers: Demanding justice and equity

The Parkland Institute’s Annual Fall Conference will explore why, at a time of remarkable wealth production, the money seems to be skewing in very particular directions and away from many groups (full-time, part-time, casual workers; women and minorities; the abjectly poor and disabled outside altogether of labour markets, etc.) and towards a small minority; and what can and should be done about it.

WHEN: November 21 – 23, 2014

WHERE: University of Alberta
Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science (CCIS)

RSVP: http://cts.vresp.com/c/?ParklandInstitute/9f57d80110/6a8eda1cc4/edff06a72f

News

Energy East the wrong type of petroleum infrastructure

The recent application by TransCanada Pipelines to build a pipeline from Alberta’s oil sands to the Maritimes is another example of infrastructure projects that will impoverish Canada.

By allowing oil companies to ship low-value product, it will undermine the economic viability of upgrading here in Canada and potentially put Canadians out of work.

“The Energy East pipeline won’t bring Alberta oil to eastern refineries – instead it will channel that oil right past Canadian refineries on the way to foreign markets,” AFL president Gil McGowan said. “The closest that Energy East will get to a Canadian refinery is the Irving Refinery in New Brunswick, but even there, oil transported on the pipeline will not go to the refinery itself; instead it will be delivered to a new oil export terminal.”

Through research and advocacy, the Alberta Federation of Labour is engaged in a campaign to encourage the public, media and government to look more closely at the claims being made by proponents of the pipeline, including the current Premiers of Alberta and New Brunswick.

“Despite all the rhetoric and the spin, it’s clear that Energy East is not a ‘nation building’ project. Instead, it is yet another in a long line of projects aimed to perpetuating the ‘rip-it-and-ship-it’ approach that has characterized Canada’s resource sector for too long,” McGowan said.

Immigration – and TFWP – must remain a federal responsibility

Thousands of companies misusing the Temporary Foreign Worker program, uncovered by the Alberta Federation of Labour, prove that the program should remain a federal responsibility.

Documents obtained under freedom of information requests show that in 2013 there were more than 2,000 businesses nationwide whose workforces were more than 30 per cent TFWs – the majority of which were in Alberta. In the same year, more than 1,000 businesses had workforces that were more than 50 per cent TFWs. Again, the majority of these were in Alberta.

“If people are coming to Canada to work here, they should have the right to stay here. And that means immigration, not a ‘temporary’ status,” AFL president Gil McGowan said. “If someone is coming to Canada to work, whatever part of the country they move to first, they should have the right to move to other parts of the country if they so choose. That won’t happen if provincial governments are setting up their own separate ‘temporary’ programs.”

The list also raises serious concerns about the role being played by foreign state-owned corporations in the oil sands. More than half of the workers employed in Alberta by companies like Sinopec (a state-owned oil corporation from China) and Samjin (a subsidiary of Korea’s national oil company) are TFWs.

“The Government of Alberta has – pressured by business groups – floated the idea of taking over management of the TFW program from Ottawa. If that ever took place, it would be a disaster for Canadians and Immigrants alike,” McGowan said.

Did you know ...

  • Over the past 40 years, the average Canadian on minimum wage has only seen their hourly pay increase by one penny.
  • 86 per cent of Canadian families will see no benefit at all from income-splitting.
  • Only 19 per cent of Alberta children 0-5 have access to a regulated child care space.
  • Alberta is 2nd-last among Canadian provinces for number of regulated spaces per child. Only Saskatchewan has fewer regulated spaces per child.

Events

November 14-16: AFL Affiliate Political Campaign School

December 6: Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

December 10: PIA Open House

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Energy East pipeline won’t help address needs in eastern Canada; it’s ALL about export to foreign markets

Proponents of pipeline seem to be deliberately misleading the public and the media

Edmonton – Earlier today, TransCanada Pipelines officially filed an application with the National Energy Board (NEB) to build the much-discussed Energy East pipeline from Alberta to New Brunswick. In response, Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, released the following statement:

“If, as many of its proponents are saying today, the Energy East pipeline would really create a significant number of long-term refining jobs in New Brunswick and reduce the reliance of eastern Canada on foreign oil, we would enthusiastically support the project. But, the truth is, this pipeline will do nothing of the sort. A thorough analysis of the TransCanada application shows that Energy East won’t bring Alberta oil to eastern refineries – instead it will channel that oil right past Canadian refineries on the way to foreign markets.

The closest that Energy East will get to a Canadian refinery is the Irving Refinery in New Brunswick, but even there, oil transported on the pipeline will not go to the refinery itself; instead it will be delivered to a new oil export terminal being built by the Irvings next to the refinery. Even if Irving Oil wanted to take a portion of the oil out of the pipeline before loading it on ships for export, they couldn’t because the New Brunswick refinery is a ‘cracking refinery’, as opposed to a ‘coking refinery.’ That means that it couldn’t use the diluted bitumen coming down the pipeline as feedstock without investing literally billions of dollars in upgrades. To date, no such upgrades have been announced, so it’s clear that the vast majority of bitumen coming down the pipe will be destined for foreign, not domestic markets.

We raise these points in an effort to encourage the public and media to look more closely at the claims being made by proponents of the pipeline, including the Premiers of Alberta and New Brunswick. Despite all the rhetoric and the spin, it’s clear that Energy East is not a ‘nation building’ project. Instead, it is yet another in a long line of projects aimed to perpetuating the ‘rip-it-and-ship-it’ approach that has characterized Canada’s resource sector for too long. To put it another way, Energy East will only solidify our role as “hewers of wood, drawers of water…and diggers of bitumen.” When will our leaders start championing projects that actually keep good refining jobs in Canada, instead of exporting them to countries like the United States and China?”

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MEDIA CONTACT:

Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.218.4351 (cell)
or via e-mail
orokne@afl.org

 

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Stop Sending Canadian Jobs Down the Pipeline!

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Oil Refining In Canada Makes Sense

Third-party economist’s report shows value-added enterprises
would be highly profitable in Alberta

Edmonton — A new, comprehensive report on the economics of upgrading and refining in Western Canada shows that an integrated upgrader-and-refinery plant would be highly profitable if it were built in Alberta today.

The report, entitled “Upgrading Our Future: The Economics of In-Province Upgrading,” was released on Monday, Oct. 6, at an event featuring Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan; representatives of two separate companies with proposals to build refineries in Ontario and BC; Ed Osterwald, an internationally recognized energy expert and senior partner with UK-based Competition Economists Group (CEG).

“Today, we’ve proven to Albertans that it makes economic sense to think like owners of the oil sands, and keep good jobs here,” McGowan said. ”Albertans should get the maximum value out of the resources they own. Doing so creates more jobs and wealth. It just makes sense for us as a province, and for us as a country.”

The report updates a 2006 study commissioned for the Government of Alberta’s Hydrocarbon Upgrading Task Force. [2006 HUTF study by David Netzer] By applying today’s costs and prices to the 2006 study, Ed Osterwald, an internationally recognized energy expert and senior partner with UK-based Competition Economists Group (CEG), who wrote the report jointly with fellow CEG partner Salman Nissan.

“There is an emerging consensus on the need to add value to our natural resources before they get shipped overseas,” McGowan said.

Among the participants in the release of the report was former federal international trade minister and former Alberta treasurer Stockwell Day, who has recently joined the advisory board of Pacific Future Energy, a BC-based company proposing a $10 billion oil sands refinery in northern British Columbia. Day will join the proceedings via teleconference.

“We support efforts like Pacific Future Energy, who are clearly looking to expand Canadian manufacturing and the good jobs that go with it,” McGowan said. ”Some might call it strange bedfellows, we call it a coalition of common sense. We’re delighted that there are leaders in the private sector committed to keeping good, long-term, middle-class, family-sustaining jobs in Canada.”

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MEDIA CONTACT:

Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.218.4351 (cell)
or via e-mail
orokne@afl.org

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2014 Libraries in the age of technology

In Canada, October is recognized as Library Month. So, perhaps we should ask ourselves; “how relevant
are libraries in today’s quickly evolving digital world?”

Read more here: 2014 Libraries in the age of technology

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2014 Report Upgrading Our Future: The Economics of In-Province Upgrading

Upgrading Our Future: The Economics of In-Province Upgrading

The report, entitled “Upgrading Our Future: The Economics of In-Province Upgrading,” was released on Monday, Oct. 6, at an event featuring Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan; representatives of two separate companies with proposals to build refineries in Ontario and BC; and the report’s author, Ed Osterwald, an internationally recognized energy expert and senior partner with UK-based Competition Economists Group (CEG).

Issued with AFL New Release: Oct 6 Oil Refining in Canada Makes Sense

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2014 Ltr ro Prentice_request for meeting to present info and prespectives about the TFWP

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Prentice plan to re-open TFW floodgates would be bad news for working Albertans

Documents released by AFL show TFWs are being used to suppress wages in oil sands-related construction; some businesses fill more than half their jobs with TFWs

Edmonton – Internal government documents paint a clear picture of the negative consequences for working Albertans if Premier Jim Prentice is successful in convincing the federal government to re-open the TFW floodgates.

The documents, obtained by the Alberta Federation of Labour through federal access to information requests, show thousands of Alberta-based businesses have been disproportionately relying on Temporary Foreign Workers — many with workforces that are more than 50 per cent TFWs. They also show many Alberta businesses have been granted work permits that allow them to pay TFWs far below the rate offered to Canadians.

“Rather than working on the side of businesspeople who want to use TFWs to suppress wages and displace Canadians, the Premier should be taking the side of working Albertans who have bills to pay and kids to raise,” AFL president Gil McGowan said. “When it comes to making decisions about the future of the TFW program, he has to stop forming his opinions based exclusively on conversations he’s had with wealthy businessmen. Ordinary working people have a huge stake in all of this – their interests and their opinions cannot be ignored.”

The documents show that in 2013 there were 2,578 businesses nationwide whose workforces were more than 30 per cent TFWs – the majority of which were in Alberta. In the same year, 1,123 businesses had workforces that were more than 50 per cent TFWs. Again, the majority of these were in Alberta.

“There are a lot of fast food franchises on this list, but there are also a lot of big names in industries like construction and energy,” McGowan said. “Albertans deserve to know why the federal government thinks it’s okay for companies like Kiewet, Stuart Olson, Lafarge and Ensign Drilling to fill more than 30 per cent of their jobs with TFWs. And I think Canadians in places like Ontario and Quebec deserve to why the federal government is letting companies like Facebook, Amazon, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Infosys fill more than 50 per cent of their jobs with TFWs.”

McGowan says the list also raises serious concerns about the role being played by foreign state-owned corporations in the oil sands. More than half of the workers employed in Alberta by companies like Sinopec (a state-owned oil corporation from China) and Samjin (a subsidiary of Korea’s national oil company) are TFWs.

In addition to the list of businesses that use TFWs to fill more than 30 and 50 per cent of their jobs, the AFL also released documents showing that many construction companies in Alberta have been using TFWs to suppress the wages of tradespeople.

“It’s bad enough when businesses in the fast food industry are allowed to use TFWs to suppress wages, but when you start seeing the same thing happening with welders, ironworkers and electricians it becomes clear that the situation has gotten completely out of hand. These are the kind of jobs that form the backbone of Alberta’s middle class. Attacks on these jobs simply cannot be tolerated,” McGowan said.

Over the last two years, many work permits have been granted that allowed construction companies in Alberta to hire Temporary Foreign Workers at wages below those paid to Canadians. In some cases, the approved wages have fallen dramatically below the prevailing wage rate.

“A company called Supreme International was given approval to pay 28 TFW welders $19.25 an hour, which is $10.75 below the prevailing wage for welders in Alberta, and only about half of what a Canadian welder makes in Fort McMurray. Kiewet Energy Construction was given TFW permits for 100 industrial electricians and 100 ironworkers without even disclosing how much those TFWs would be paid,” said McGowan. “In June, the federal government introduced changes that will make it harder for low-wage employers to get access to TFWs. That’s a step in the right direction. But what these documents show is that the problem is not solved; it’s just moving up the wage ladder.”

McGowan has sent a letter to Premier Prentice urging him not to give into pressure from self-interested business owners who want to maintain easy access to exploitable TFWs. In the letter, McGowan reminds Prentice that too many construction companies have used TFWs to suppress wages, displace Canadians and ignore their responsibility to train the next generation of home-grown apprentices.

AFL Backgrounder:  Construction Trades Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Requests

AFL Backgrounder: ATIP Documents on Employees with TFW-Dominated Workforces

ATIP A-2014-00391: Canadian employers with a workforce of over 30% Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) and Canadian employers with a workforce composed of over 50% or more of Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs)   NOTE: A list of Canadian employers with a workforce of over 30% Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) starts on page 132 (page 137 of the pdf), and a list of Canadian employers with a workforce composed of over 50% or more of Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) starts on page 160 (page 166 of the pdf) of linked PDF

ATIP A-2014-00273: A list of all Labour Market Opinions issued May 1, 2012 - June 20, 2014 in Alberta by region

ATIP-A-2014-00074: Prevailing wage rates (or other wage rates, as used to adjudicate LMOs), for NOCs requested, by region from January 1, 2009 – March 31, 2014

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MEDIA CONTACT:

Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.218.4351 (cell)
or via e-mail
orokne@afl.org

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2014 Backgrounder: Construction Trades ATIP Requests

2014 Backgrounder: Construction Trades ATIP Requests

Backgrounder Issued with AFL News Release: Sep 26 Prentice plan to re-open TFW floodgates would be bad news for working Albertans

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