Report on Temporary Foreign Workers finds Alberta's problems remain unsolved: AFL consultations find continued inaction on unscrupulous recruiters and employers

Edmonton - The Alberta Federation of Labour released a report on the results of a consultation workshop on Temporary Foreign Workers today. For full report....

The report details the proceedings of a day-long series of workshops held with temporary foreign workers, community volunteers, immigrant-serving agencies, and trade unions. The consultation was in response to the Department of Employment and Immigration's roundtables on the subject.

The workshop reported ongoing issues with unscrupulous employers, recruiters, and labour brokers. Despite provincial government consultation on how Alberta's laws protecting TFWs from abuse by recruiters, no action has yet been taken on amendments to Alberta legislation.

"Our workshop heard unanimous support for adopting the Manitoba model for better regulation, monitoring, and enforcement of both employers and recruitment agencies - a model that better protects temporary foreign workers," says Gil McGowan, President of the Alberta Federation of Labour.

The AFL report also makes recommendations about fixing the government's Temporary Foreign Worker Advisory Office, adding staff to Employment Standards in order to conduct proactive inspections, and adding services to TFWs outside Alberta's major cities, where the majority of TFWs are now working.

The report also details new information on number of TFW entries to Alberta, and finds that TFW entries in 2009, despite the recession, were the same as 2007 numbers. Furthermore, TFW entries now substantially outpace new immigrants, showing that our province has now become a revolving door for a disposable workforce, rather than a welcoming place where immigrants come to build their lives.

"Our findings have shown that despite much higher unemployment, particularly among young Albertans, we continued to bring in thousands of Temporary Foreign Workers for low-skilled occupations," says McGowan. "This suggests that the TFW program was never about a labour shortage. It was - and is - about suppressing normal wage growth for the lowest-income Albertans and TFWs working in lower-skilled occupations," adds McGowan.

The Report concludes by recommending that Alberta exercise national leadership in providing a path to permanent residency for Temporary Foreign Workers. Alberta should immediately increase the number of TFWs going through the Provincial Nominee Program.

"In only four years, Alberta has gone from being a place where immigrants come to build a better life to a province where we use people for temporary work - often in abusive or exploitative circumstances, where vulnerable people don't have workplace protections - and then ship them out.

"Our recommendations are simply a starting point in turning the ship around, and getting back to a basic understanding of human rights, sustainable labour market policies, and safer workplaces for everyone working in Alberta," concludes McGowan.


Media Contact:

Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour @ cell 780-218-9888 or office 780-483-3021

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