2014 TFWP - Report on Approvals at Minimum Wage_2014May26

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Government allows thousands of employers to underpay TFWs

“Government shouldn't be in the business of helping employers keep wages low,” says AFL

EDMONTON – An audit of the Temporary Foreign Worker program (TFWP) reveals that thousands of employers are being allowed to break the rules set up to stop employers from using TFWs to drive down wages.

The audit, conducted by the Alberta Federation of Labour, compared Statistics Canada’s prevailing regional wage rates to the approved wage rates from the approved applications of employers seeking to bring in Temporary Foreign Workers. The audit showed that employers were routinely allowed to pay TFWs minimum wage in industries and occupations that are supposed to pay higher rates.

“One of the major ‘fixes’ the Conservatives are suggesting to prevent the TFW program from putting Canadians out of work is a ‘wage floor’ for TFWs,” AFL president Gil McGowan said. “The documents show that the Harper government has regularly allowed employers to pay below-market wages, in contravention of the existing rules and all their empty promises. Why should Canadians believe them now?”

The results of the audit are shocking: of the 15,006 employers who were approved to bring in Temporary Foreign Workers, more than 14,500 were offering wages that were lower than what the government says these workers should be paid. The wages were below the prevailing wage rate anywhere from a few cents to $11.45 an hour too low.

“The government shouldn’t be in the business of helping employers keep wages low,” McGowan said. “If an employer is offering minimum wage, they’re clearly not trying very hard to find Canadian workers. I suspect that if they could have paid any less, they wouldn’t have hesitated.”

TFWP regulations give Minister Kenney’s department the power to deny work permits if wages offered a worker in the Program are below prevailing regional wages for that particular occupation.

“The government has the ability – and the duty – to deny these work permits. These applications clearly state the wages that employers are offering, and the government has documentation of the prevailing wage rates,” McGowan said. “The fact that they didn’t bother to cross reference applications to the appropriate wage rates is an abject dereliction of duty. It shows that there is no enforcement of the Temporary Foreign Worker program, and it shows you can’t take it at face value when Minister Jason Kenney’s talks big about a crackdown.”

AFL Temporary Foreign Worker Program – Report on Approvals at Minimum Wage, May, 2014

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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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MEDIA ADVISORY: Government allows thousands of employers to underpay TFWs

“Government shouldn’t be in the business of helping employers keep wages low,” says AFL

EDMONTON – An audit of the Temporary Foreign Worker program reveals that thousands of employers are being allowed to break the rules set up to stop employers from using TFWs to drive down wages.

The audit, conducted by the Alberta Federation of Labour, compared Statistics Canada’s prevailing regional wage rates to the approved wage rates from the approved applications of employers seeking to bring in Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs). The audit showed that employers were routinely allowed to pay TFWs minimum wage in industries and occupations that are supposed to pay higher rates.

"One of the major ‘fixes’ the Conservatives are suggesting to prevent the TFW program from putting Canadians out of work is a ‘wage floor’ for TFWs,” AFL president Gil McGowan said. “The documents show that the Harper government has regularly allowed employers to pay below-market wages, in contravention of the existing rules and all their empty promises. Why should Canadians believe them now?”

The audit of the TFW program will be made available to the media at a press conference at the AFL offices at 2 p.m. on Monday, May 26.

When:
2:00 p.m., Monday, May 26, 2014

Where:
Alberta Federation of Labour Offices
#300, 10408 – 124 Street, Edmonton

Who:
Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan

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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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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

OR*cep445:lmr*cope#458

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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2014 Ltr to Kenney_proposing “grandfathering” for TFWs already in the country_2014May15

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Labour leaders and migrant worker activists slam Kenney’s mishandling of TFW scandal

Temporary Foreign Worker program must be ended in a manner that respects the rights of workers

EDMONTON – The moratorium on Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) in the food service sector is a first step towards ending the program, but something needs to be done to help TFWs who are already in the country.

These workers are just as much victims of bad public policy as the Canadians who have been displaced by the program.

“The Harper government’s Temporary Foreign Worker program is a train wreck. It should be scrapped and the government should go back to the drawing board,” Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said.

“But thousands and thousands of foreign workers now face the prospect of deportation. Today, we want to present the government with a modest proposal: close off all low-wage streams of the TFW program going forward, and let the workers who are in Canada already stay but let them stay as permanent residents and citizens as opposed to disposable, exploitable guest workers.”

Closing the low-wage stream of the TFW program will protect Canadian jobs and granting permanent residency to foreign workers already here will uphold Canadian values.

At a press conference on Thursday, McGowan and migrant workers advocacy group Migrante executive director Marco Luciano were joined by former Temporary Foreign Worker Junniflor Magno to discuss the abuses of the Temporary Foreign Worker program.

“This program morally diminishes us as a country by creating a disenfranchised underclass of guest workers,” McGowan said. “The TFW program distorts and degrades the labour market, it puts foreign workers in precarious positions. In the process, it displaces Canadians from jobs and drives down wages for all of us.”

Temporary Foreign Workers don’t have the same rights as Canadian workers because they are here at the pleasure of their employer. Their right to work here is tied to the employer’s Labour Market Opinion and to the work permit that the government issued. The basic problem faced by Temporary Foreign Workers is they don’t have mobility rights. And more importantly, the federal government immigration programs do not allow TFWs in the low-skilled (and some of the skilled) jobs to apply for immigration – at all.

“A worker under the TFW program cannot quit if they don’t get that raise they were promised, but a Canadian worker can,” McGowan said. “Every worker in Canada should have the right to sing that old song: “take this job and shove it.” If they do, only good employers who play by the rules can keep staff and stay in business.”

AFL Statement on Moratorium on Food Service Labour Market Opinions

Letter to Minister Jason Kenney proposing “grandfathering” for TFWs already in the country-

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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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MEDIA ADVISORY: Labour leaders and migrant worker activists slam Kenney’s mishandling of TFW scandal

Temporary Foreign Worker program must be ended
in a manner that respects the rights of workers

EDMONTON – The moratorium on Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) in the food service sector is a first step towards ending the program, but something needs to be done to help TFWs who are already in the country. These workers are just as much victims of bad public policy as the Canadians who have been displaced by the program.

That’s the message that will be delivered by Alberta’s top labour leader and a leading migrant-workers advocate at a news conference this afternoon.

“The Harper government’s Temporary Foreign Worker program is a train wreck. It should be scrapped and the government should go back to the drawing board,” says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour. “But thousands and thousands of foreign workers now face the prospect of deportation. Today, we want to present the government with a modest proposal: close off all low-wage streams of the TFW program going forward, but let the workers who are in Canada already stay – but let them stay as permanent residents and citizens as opposed to disposable, exploitable guest workers.”

At the news conference McGowan will explain how closing the low-wage stream of the TFW program will protect Canadian jobs and how granting permanent residency to foreign workers already here will uphold Canadian values.

McGowan will be joined by Marco Luciano, executive director of the migrant workers advocacy group, Migrante, Junniflor Magno, former Temporary Foreign Worker at KFC, as well as a number of Temporary Foreign Workers who will tell stories of mistreatment under the current TFW program and their hopes to stay in Canada as citizens.

When:
1:30 p.m., Thursday, May 15, 2014

Where:
Alberta Federation of Labour offices, #300, 10408 - 124 Street, Edmonton

Who:
Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL)
Marco Luciano, Executive Director, Migrante
Junniflor Magno, former Temporary Foreign Worker at KFC

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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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AFL Statement on Moratorium on Food Service Labour Market Opinions

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Public Mobilization Sends Conservatives Back to Drawing Board on Pensions

Government Hearings Provide Opportunity for Discussion of Real Retirement Security

EDMONTON – Contentious legislation that could ruin the retirement security of hundreds of thousands of Albertans is off the table … for now.

Bills 9 and 10 — which respectively target public-sector and private-sector defined-benefit plans — will not be passed by the legislature during its current sitting, but will instead be referred to the Standing Committee on Alberta’s Economic Future, and will be subject to public hearings. The Bills are expected to return to the legislature for the fall sitting.

“It’s clear that Albertans are making themselves heard. They’ve stood up for their pensions. They’ve let their MLAs know that these Bills are unacceptable,” Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan said. “Together, the hundreds of thousands of people who depend on these plans have made the government pause. Now we have to keep working together to stop the attack on defined-benefit plans.”

The Bills, if passed, would have undermined the retirement security of hundreds of thousands of Albertans by allowing the conversion of modest, stable defined-benefit pensions to less-stable ones. What's more, the Bills would have allowed employers to target benefits already earned.

Since pension legislation was added to the government’s agenda in September, thousands of Albertans have educated themselves on the issues, have visited their MLAs, have participated in rallies at workplaces, have written letters to Premiers Redford and Hancock, have signed petitions, and have protested at the legislature. Alberta’s workers and retirees have found allies like Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties.

“This is democracy in action,” McGowan said. “We’re pleased that the government has acknowledged the need for more consultation and for a more careful review of the evidence and options.”

During the hearings, the Alberta Federation of Labour will urge the government to help the more than 70 per cent of Albertans who have no workplace pension plan and who are facing an insecure retirement. A good place to start would be for the Premier to support the reasonable expansion of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) that is supported by almost every other Canadian province

“The Alberta Federation of Labour and its affiliated member unions look forward to participating in the committee hearings,” McGowan said. “We look forward to reminding policymakers of the important role that defined-benefit pension plans play in ensuring retirement security for Albertans.”

McGowan is at the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) Convention in Montreal along with members of the coalition including Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE Alberta) President Marle Roberts, United Nurses of Alberta (UNA) president Heather Smith, and Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) president Elisabeth Ballermann. They will be available today by phone.

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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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2014 Ltr to Ferguson_request for systems audit of the TFWP

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