Fraud charges lead to new calls to scrap Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Lack of oversight will lead to more abuse of vulnerable workers, says AFL

News that the former head of a group that acts as a broker for temporary foreign workers has been charged with fraud valued at more than $2 million has led to renewed calls to scrap the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program.

"There is a clear and obvious lack of oversight of the TFW program that can lead to appalling abuse of workers," says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL), which represents 145,000 workers.

"The TFW program isn't working for foreign workers, it isn't working for Alberta workers and it isn't working for employers. It's time to admit the program is a failure and replace it with real immigration," he says.

Calgary police today revealed that the former head of the Temporary Foreign Workers Association of Canada has been charged with defrauding a newcomer to Canada.

Police said they believe the Calgary woman was president of the non-profit association when she allegedly defrauded a woman of more than $2 million in property and cash.

Melissa Holman, 40, faces five counts of fraud over $5,000 and five counts of theft over $5,000.

Auditor-General Sheila Fraser panned the TFW program in her 2009 report stating "there has been no systematic follow-up ... to verify that employers are complying with the terms and conditions under which the LMO (Labour Mobility Opinion) application was approved, such as wages to be paid and accommodations to be provided."

McGowan said this lack of oversight will get far worse with the Accelerated Labour Market Opinion (ALMO) process proposed by the Harper government.

"The federal government admits that fewer than 20 per cent of successful ALMOs will be subject to a compliance review. We can only imagine the widespread abuse workers will endure when bad employers know they have little chance of getting caught," says McGowan.

"These workers were vulnerable before and reports of abuse are widespread. It's only going to get worse. As working conditions for TFWs deteriorate, it makes conditions for all workers worse. It's the same with wages. The Tories will allow TFWs to be paid 15 per cent less than the prevailing regional wage, meaning there will be immediate pressure on Canadians to work for less or risk losing their jobs," he says.


For more information call: Gil McGowan, President @ 780-218-9888 (cell)

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