False crisis

Re: "AFL says chains abusing program; Foreign staff fill low-wage positions," April 10.

Alberta Federation of Labour leader Gil McGowan makes some sweeping generalizations about Alberta employers and the temporary workers who come here for a chance at a better life.

Alberta employers would rather hire people from our own communities, but what is a business to do when those applications stop coming in?

The temporary foreign worker program is the last and most expensive option for employers looking for workers. It's also an opportunity for a better life for ambitious workers from around the world who want to experience the Alberta standard of living.

Some have criticized the provision allowing employers to pay up to 15 per cent less than the average rate for a given occupation. The purpose of this rule is not to allow employers to pay temporary workers less, but to give them room to pay according to experience and expertise. Companies can't pay temporary foreign workers less than they pay similarly qualified Canadians.

Eliminating the temporary foreign worker program could shut down some Alberta businesses, and severely limit the operation of many more.

If the temporary foreign worker program is used in bad faith, employers can and should be barred from ever using the program again - a consequence provided for under the existing legislation.

Instead of whipping up a false crisis, groups like the AFL would be better served working with the business community to address labour shortages with long-term solutions.

David MacLean, Edmonton David MacLean is vice-president of communications and policy with Alberta Enterprise Group.

Calgary Herald, Friday Apr 12, 2013
Byline: David MacLean

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