Alberta Entrenching Exploitation of Foreign Workers

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The Alberta Federation of Labour today released Entrenching Exploitation, the second report of its Temporary Foreign Worker Advocate. The report provides an update on the living and working conditions of temporary foreign workers in Alberta. It also evaluates government responses to problems in the program and examines the state of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) during the economic downturn.

"The working and living conditions of temporary foreign workers in Alberta has not improved at all in the past couple of years," says AFL President Gil McGowan. "We continue to exploit these men and women with little regard to their rights."

"Even worse is that as the foreign worker program continues to expand, it is clear we are entrenching this exploitation for the long term."

The central conclusion of the report is that Canada, with Alberta at the head of the pack, is transforming the TFWP into a permanent migrant worker program. "Canada's so-called temporary solution to labour shortages is rapidly becoming a permanent part of our labour market," says TFW Advocate Yessy Byl. "We are modeling our guest worker program after Europe - who have created a permanent underclass of foreign workers with little access to citizenship or full labour rights."

The Report finds that since the downturn began many high-skilled foreign workers have been laid off and sent home, but that employers in the restaurant, hospitality and service industries continue to import new foreign workers. "The program, originally designed as a program for scientists, professors and engineers, is quickly becoming a haven for employers to bring in low-skilled workers as hotel housekeepers, fast food cooks and retail clerks," says Byl.

The Report offers 21 recommendations at improving conditions for foreign workers. The most important recommendations call for an end to the program in its current form and to allow temporary foreign workers currently in the country to receive permanent residency status, if they choose.

Other recommendations call for tighter restrictions on employers wanting to use the program, better and more active enforcement of employment rights, and a more limited role for the TFWP.

"This report informs the public of a serious policy shift that is occurring without public debate and without consideration of its impact on Canada and our labour market," McGowan concludes.


For more information call:

Gil McGowan, AFL President (780) 483-3021 (office) (780) 218-9888 (cell)

Add CommentComments (1)

By Brahma Chaudhuri | April 30, 2013
I have read the above report, but I don't find anything specific. How are foreign workrers exploited, particularly in Food Services, in cities like Calgary and Edmonton? How is the Alberta government is also a party to this exploitation? For example, employers like Seven Eleven, systematically harass foreign workers by making them work extra long hours, sometimes fourteen days at a stretch without any break, ask to do double shifts without any notice, compel them to work up to midnightclosing time and then come again to open at 6 am, with hardly 3/4 hours of sleep, and threatening them with dire consequences or firing if they make any mistakes and don't perform satisfactorily under such conditions. They keep foreign workers who apply for AINP under their toes, and fire them exactly when they are about to get their AINP in 4/5 days. Alberta Government work with them and cancel AINPs of these workers. They have to start all over again. They are shown on papers to be receiving $15 an hour but in actuality they receive only $11. Are you doing anything about such exploitations or are you simply interested in your political agendas?

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