Service Alberta's survey on employment agencies (primarily for temporary foreign workers)

Complete Service Alberta survey and submit by Friday, April 30, 2010

Apr 21, 2010

Issue: Service Alberta's survey on employment agencies (primarily for temporary foreign workers)

Action Requested: Complete Service Alberta's survey and submit

When: All surveys must be submitted by Friday, April 30, 2010

Background:

  • "Employment agencies," better known as recruiters, often illegally charge large fees to desperate temporary foreign workers in exchange for job placement. The Alberta Federation of Labour Temporary Foreign Worker Advocate has found that the majority of foreign workers have been charged fees ranging anywhere from $3,000 to $20,000.
  • The agencies are getting around the law by calling the fees settlement services or by charging for "arranging visas." The government has failed to prosecute any of these recruiters (unless they forget to pay the $200 licensing fee) by saying that the legislation was never designed for that kind of situation.
  • Recently, the federal government has been forcing employers to fire foreign workers, breaching many collective agreements in the process and exacerbating the situation. It has become virtually impossible for foreign workers who have been working in Canada to get government permission to work here. A number of recruiters have been feeding on this desperation to turn a profit.

AFL's Position:

If employers need employees, then it is the employer that should pay the cost of recruiting, whether they are foreign or domestic.

Government should close loopholes in the law that allows employment agencies to charge workers for recruitment including related services.

When an employment agency is found to have broken the law by charging a worker fees, there should be a provision that the worker can sue for damages based on the finding (the Personal Information Protection Act provides this for breaches of privacy.)

Action:

Download Service Alberta's survey (http://www.servicealberta.ca/pdf/Employment_agencies_DP.pdf). You can submit your answers online by filling out the form and clicking on the "Submit by Email" button at the end of the form, or you may print it out and fax it or mail it in. If you plan to mail it, please get in posted very quickly so that it is received by next Friday, April 30, 2010.

The survey asks if you think the definition of Employment Agency should be broadened to include things like arranging visas, settlement services, etc. We think it should. Recruiters have been managing to avoid prosecution by saying that they are charging $10,000 for things like "settlement services" (arranging visas, arranging Alberta Health, opening bank accounts, etc.) not for "recruitment."

Issue 3 reflects actual common situations that foreign workers have, and continue to face. All such activities should be illegal and recruiters, who threaten, etc., should be prosecuted and sued.

Issue 4 asks whether agencies should have to provide security (like posting a bond) to protect job-seekers from financial harm. The Manitoba government has successfully implemented a program such as this and we believe that Alberta should also. Please answer "yes" to these questions.

Section 2 deals with the "settlement services" issue. We believe the suggested definition should also be expanded to include all services relating to accommodation, which would include buying furniture, etc. We are opposed to the "more than 30 days" clause - all costs of arranging accommodation should be covered by the employer. They should also be responsible for all services related to food and clothing. Most importantly, we believe that it is the employer who should pay for all such services, not the foreign worker. So, it is our position that agencies should be prohibited from charging temporary foreign workers fees for any settlement services (Issue 7, Question 7)

Contact information:

Employment Agencies Discussion Paper
Service Alberta, Consumer Programs
3rd floor Commerce Place
10155 - 102 Street
Edmonton, AB T5J 4L4
Fax: (780) 427-3033

If you have further questions or need more information, please contact Yessy Byl at tfwadvocate@gmail.com or call 780-474-8101.


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