Edmonton - The Alberta Federation of Labour reacted with guarded optimism to the Government's new measures announced today to protect temporary foreign workers.
The two special advisory offices for temporary foreign workers are a welcome - if long overdue - measure," says AFL President Gil McGowan. "The AFL had set up its own temporary foreign workers' advocate office last spring as a result of seeing a desperate need for such a measure."
McGowan also lauded the new investigative role assigned to the eight Employment Standards Officers assigned to investigate complaints by temporary foreign workers and to launch investigations and inspections on their own initiative. "We know from our own experience that many temporary foreign workers are either unaware of their rights or simply afraid to pursue those rights because of fears they will be sent home."
The real problem labour has with the new initiative is that it doesn't deal with the underlying issues surrounding the use of temporary foreign workers. "We are using these workers as disposable commodities to deal with very real inadequacies in our workplace training system and problems with our immigration system," says McGowan. "We are letting employers and government off the hook for failures of the system to train adequate number of workers with required skills and to pay wages and benefits sufficient to attract and retain Canadian workers," says McGowan.
Labour has also been very consistent in its opposition to the temporary foreign worker program, according to McGowan. "We say if these people are good enough to work here, they are good enough to be eligible for Canadian citizenship. The whole rent-a-worker aspect of the program is unacceptable."
For more information contact:
Gil McGowan, AFL President @ 780.483-3021 (office) 780.218-9888 (cell)
Yessy Byl, TFW Advocate @ 780.720-8481 (cell)
2:30 p.m., Salon A, Chateau Lacombe Crowne Plaza (10111 Bellamy Hill)
(Copies of the report are available this morning at www.afl.org)
EDMONTON-The Alberta Federation of Labour today released the 6-month report of the Temporary Foreign Worker Advocate project, launched this past April. The report outlines the activities of the Advocate, highlights the most common problems with the program and offers 21 specific recommendations to both provincial and federal governments to fix the program.
The report (click here) is available at www.afl.org immediately. AFL President Gil McGowan will accompany Yessy Byl, the TFW Advocate, at a media availability at 2.30 this afternoon to discuss the report.
"After six months of helping foreign workers, I can only conclude that there are deep and troubling flaws in the foreign worker program," says Yessy Byl, the Advocate. "The rapid expansion of the program in the past two years has been an unqualified disaster."
"When we launched the Advocate project, we knew there was exploitation going on, but we didn't realize just how widespread it is," says McGowan. "Alberta has created a disposable workforce."
In six months, Byl took more than 1,400 phone calls and opened files for 123 temporary foreign workers (TFWs). She also offered presentations to hundreds of Albertans to educate them about the program. "The demand has been overwhelming. Clearly there are thousands of foreign workers needing help and have nowhere to turn," observes Byl.
A number of problems experienced by foreign workers have re-occurred frequently, Byl reports. For example, 89 of the 123 cases reported problems with a "labour broker" - being forced to pay illegal fees to brokers or brokers making misleading promises to lure them to Canada. Some other of the more common concerns are:
* Substandard wages and working conditions;
* Jobs disappearing without notice;
* Excessive rents charged by employers for substandard housing;
* Lack of enforcement of basic employment protections; and
* Long wait times for work permits.
The report has one key recommendation - calling for the program to be scaled back to its original intent and the immigration system reformed to allow more permanent immigration of these workers. Realizing this is an ambitious recommendation, the Advocate also makes 20 other recommendations aimed at improving the living and working conditions for TFWs. These include:
- Remove employer names from work permits to allow TFWs to switch jobs;
- allow TFWs to apply for permanent immigration status without employer-sponsorship;
- Active enforcement by the province to ensure employment standards are being met;
- Stronger provisions prohibiting broker fees to TFWs with stiff penalties for contravention;
- Limits on rents and minimum housing standards;
- Create an arm's-length provincial TFW Advocate funded by the government to assist TFWs free-of-charge with complaints and concerns.
"The evidence is now conclusive - the TFW program is a mess and thousands of foreign workers are paying the price for it. The federal and provincial governments must act now. There is no more excuse for waiting," concludes McGowan.
- 30 -
For more information call:
Gil McGowan, AFL President @ 780.483-3021 (office)780.218-9888 (cell)
Yessy Byl, TFW Advocate @ 780.720-8481 (cell)
An analysis of the 123 files handled by the Advocate reveals a troubling picture of how Alberta is treating this group of workers. Quite frankly, we are exploiting their vulnerability and taking advantage of their precarious position.
As the economic boom in Alberta reached its crest over the last two years, employers and the business media alerted the public to a new problem: the "labour shortage". At first this was described as a shortage of skilled labour, especially in the construction and health care sectors. Very quickly, however, the "hospitality sector" was identified as another area of the economy starved for labour.
EDMONTON - Just because more and more employers are clamoring for access to easy-to-exploit temporary foreign workers doesn't mean the government should ignore the broader public interest and give them what they want.
That was the message of a strongly-worded letter sent today by Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan to federal Human Resources Minister Monte Solberg.
McGowan was responding to a new pilot program announced this week aimed at making it even easier for employers in Alberta and B.C. to bring foreign temporary workers into the country.
In the letter, McGowan pointed out that the federal government already dramatically lowered the bar for employers in November 2006 when the introduced the now-notorious "Lists of Occupations Under Pressure" for Alberta and B.C.
Under those changes, any employer looking to fill jobs that appear on the list has essentially been able to skip over steps in the application process aimed at proving they have actually tried to find people locally.
"When I heard about the latest move to expand the program, the first question that sprang to mind was: hasn't the government already given employers everything they asked for," says McGowan. "When exactly is enough enough?"
McGowan scoffed at promises made by Solberg that measures would be implemented "in the coming year" to introduce protections aimed at discouraging abuse and exploitation of temporary foreign workers.
"Shouldn't mechanisms for 'monitoring and compliance' be put in place before, not after, you open the door to thousands of new workers?" he asked.
McGowan agreed that a growing number of employers, especially in the restaurant and hospitality sector, are having a hard time finding people willing to work for the wages that they're used to paying. But he argued that "government shouldn't be in the business of helping employers keep wages down."
"Basic economics tells us that the first response of employers to tightening labour markets should be to make their jobs more attractive and introduce labour-saving innovations," wrote McGowan.
"But instead of doing that, more and more employers are turning to your government for a quick fix - and you're bending over backwards to give it to them ... I would argue that your efforts ... distort the labour market, discourage innovation, act as a disincentive for businesses to invest in training and put a drag on wages for Canadians. I would also argue that your efforts represent an illegitimate use of the government's legislative power."
McGowan concluded by saying that the real solution to Canada's labour force challenges lie with education and meaningful immigration reform.
"I'm going to start calling the minister Monte 'Open the Floodgates' Solberg," said McGowan. "He's deliberately turning what was a trickle of temporary workers into a disturbing torrent. And he's doing that without a broad public debate and without any evidence that this approach is really in the long-term best interests of Canadians."
- 30 -
For more information call:
Gil McGowan, AFL President @ 780.218-9888 (cell)
Ernesto Rodarte, a foreign worker from Mexico, says he and other Mexican workers are being exploited by employers even though Calgary is in the middle of a major labour shortage. Rodarte came to Canada in March to work for Bridge Brand Food Services as an overnight warehouse worker. He describes the company as a "slavedriver" that takes advantage of workers from other countries who are here trying to earn some money for their families. He says he was fired because he refused to work on a day off, missed a mandatory meeting that was scheduled on a day off and because he once called in sick after his shift was supposed to start.
Rodarte makes a number of claims about his former employer's employment practices. He says his contract specified that he would only be required to work 40 hours a week and eight hours each day. However, he says the company regularly scheduled workers for 10-hour shifts and then asked them to stay for another two or three hours each night. "They were pushing so hard for us to stay an extra couple of hours," he says. "It's very physically demanding. At the end of the day you want time to rest and recover."
He says he was regularly asked to work on his two scheduled days off, and that even if he refused, his name would appear on a schedule. Rodarte also claims that a supervisor threatened to fire him and other foreign workers if they didn't meet "impossible" productivity quotas each day. "He told us he was going to let us go unless we got those numbers," says Rodarte.
He says the company didn't report injuries to the worker's compensation board and that he was injured three times, though none of the injuries were reported. In one instance, Rodarte says he twisted his ankle and was limping. "I asked them, 'Am I supposed to work like this?' and they said, 'yes.'" When he got home after the shift was over his ankle was severely swollen.
Rodarte had lived in an apartment provided by the company but says he was kicked out a week after being fired, even though he had paid the full month's rent. He shared the two-bedroom apartment with three other workers.
He says he's speaking out because he doesn't want other employers to get away with exploiting foreign workers. "They feel they can exploit everybody because we're foreign, from Mexico. They have the impression we are very ignorant and know nothing," he says, adding that that attitude leaves "a bad taste in my mouth. Not a lot of people stand up for themselves, because they feel frightened they might end up losing their jobs. Most of them have families and they need that income to support their families."
Rodarte has filed a complaint against the company with the Alberta government and is considering filing a human rights claim.
Tim Sinclair, director of human relations at Bridge Brand Food Services, says "all of the allegations are false." He says the company can't comment on Rodarte's claims because "we don't discuss individual performance issues outside the organization." However, he says the company has never asked an injured worker to continue working, and it regularly files injury reports. He adds that no worker is forced to work overtime or to work on days off. "All of our time is voluntary," he says.
Sinclair says the company in no way exploits foreign workers. "We know that our people, everyone of our people, are really our competitive advantage. We treat everyone equally. There's nobody treated differently from myself down," he says.
Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL), says he's heard many stories similar to Rodarte's in the last few months. The AFN recently opened an office to help foreign workers and has already dealt with 100 different cases.
"I'm certainly not going to suggest that every employer who uses temporary foreign workers takes advantage of them, but there's certainly a significant minority of unscrupulous employers who do take advantage of (foreign workers') vulnerability to force workers to do things that are both illegal and dangerous," says McGowan. He says complaints range from foreign workers not getting paid what they were promised to workers being forced to do dangerous jobs without proper training or safety equipment.
Although temporary foreign workers are supposed to be protected by the same Employment Standards Code as all other Alberta workers, McGowan says that's not happening. McGowan would like to see the government conduct unannounced workplace inspections of companies employing foreign workers. He says the current system relies on foreign workers making complaints before there's any investigation. "The provincial government is relying on vulnerable and often scared temporary foreign workers to make complaints in a system they don't understand and often in a language that's new to them," says McGowan, adding that foreign workers often won't complain about employers because they have to make money to send home to their families and can't risk being deported.
"The employers know the workers are going to be very unlikely to complain, and they also know no one is watching them, so they end up trying to get away with practices that are outrageous."
Another issue the AFN is hearing complaints about is recruiters charging temporary foreign workers fees to get them jobs in Canada. Rodarte was charged $1,000 by a Calgary broker, and he says many other Mexican workers have paid the same fee. "We knew that money was going into his pocket, but you don't know how to come to Canada. Even though he's robbing you, you need this guy," he says.
McGowan says the government should also be going after such employment brokers more aggressively to ensure worker rights.
Terry Jorden, spokesperson for Alberta Employment, Immigration and Industry, says employment standards investigators are currently looking into Rodarte's complaint against his employer. "The Alberta government is grateful for workers like this coming forward with problems. We realize how difficult it is for temporary foreign workers to make the complaint, to figure out which government department handles these sorts of things and no doubt they have a certain amount of fear they may lose their jobs," he says.
Jorden says a couple of weeks ago the provincial and federal governments signed an agreement to share information on temporary foreign workers, which now allows the province to find out where temporary foreign workers are employed. "With that information we'll be better equipped to respond," he says.
Jorden couldn't comment on whether the government will start doing unannounced inspections, but he says the government is concerned about any exploitation of foreign workers. "Temporary foreign workers make up a fraction of one per cent of our workforce. However, these kinds of problems that are coming up can really damage Alberta's reputation around the world, and so although the numbers are small, we take them very seriously, and we're trying reduce and eliminate the occurrence," he says. He also says it is illegal for recruiters to charge employees to get them a job and he says the government investigates such complaints.
Fast Forward Weekly, Page 10, Thurs Aug 16 2007
Byline: Amy Steele
The announcement of $40 billion worth of new energy industry projects in the past two weeks, including Shell Canada's plans to spend $27 billion to construct a massive oilsands processing unit at its Scotford upgrader near Edmonton, has refocused attention on the province's ongoing labour crunch.
All told, oilsands projects worth more than $130 billion are planned for the next 20 years -- and billions more will be spent on energy-related projects across the province over the same time period. That has Albertans asking: where will the workers come from?
Last month, the Alberta government warned the province is facing a shortfall of 100,000 workers by 2015, with at least 40,000 of those positions in the oil and gas sector. Energy contributes about a third, more than $59 billion annually, to Alberta's gross domestic product.
"Our top three priorities are people, people and more people," said Shell Canada spokeswoman Janet Annesley, acknowledging the dilemma. "Ensuring we have access to skilled people is our top concern."
Shell's new upgrader is the cornerstone of a made-in-Canada strategy that will see it process virtually all of its oilsands in Alberta -- about 10 per cent of the country's projected output -- from the mine to the gas tank. The facility is to be built in four stages over the next 15 to 20 years, with each phase requiring 5,000 construction workers over and above the 1,200 personnel needed to run the plant.
Likewise, Petro-Canada is refitting its Edmonton refinery to take a steady diet from the Fort Hills mine, which is currently under construction near booming Fort McMurray. Costs to complete the project have risen steadily.
"The impact of labour shortages is very real. To keep up with the pace of economic growth and capitalize on key projects in the oilsands, industry needs to take the lead and tackle this issue," Andrew Stephens, a Petro-Canada vice-president, said in response to the unveiling of a new government program to recruit and train new workers.
According to a report by Deloitte and Touche, the oil industry is partly a victim of its own success, pulling talent and manpower from other sectors of the economy that support it.
"It's not just in the oilsands areas," said Dick Cooper, Deloitte's energy and resources practice leader, who is based in Calgary.
"It's in the whole economy . . . whether it's the Tim Hortons or new restaurant that can't find people to serve coffee and food because there's not enough people to keep the restaurants or coffee shops open."
In a report on future labour requirements, Cooper sees emerging demographic and educational trends contributing to the problem.
In addition to recruiting a younger generation of skilled workers, a greying bubble of baby boomers will retire, further straining a limited and shrinking talent pool.
"It's really causing a crunch in terms of getting these projects done."
But oil companies remain cautiously optimistic they can find and train new staff.
Recently, Total SA, Europe's third-largest oil producer, said it expects logistic bottlenecks and hiring difficulties as it develops oilsands projects in Alberta.
Like Shell and Petro-Canada, Total is also seeking a homegrown solution to handle the processing of its growing production, including an oilsands upgrading plant to take up bitumen from Joslyn and Surmont.
In its second-quarter report earlier this week, Total said it plans to spend between $10 billion and $15 billion to expand in Canada.
"We will have logistic pressure," Robert Castaigne, the company's chief financial officer told analysts last week. "There will be more costs. I don't think it's anything we won't be able to solve."
But Shell's Annesley said her company has a leg up because of direct recruiting programs in Alberta's colleges and trade schools -- even Internet sites like Facebook -- that lure young people into the fold.
The problem is finding the right skills for the job, another major challenge in an education system also under stress.
A $7.5-million donation to the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton is being used to develop a program tailored exclusively for Shell and its operating processes. In addition, the company wants to raise the number of apprentices on job sites to increase training.
"That alone gives an indication of the importance we place on educating the workforce of the future," Annesley said. "In the oilsands, education is the key to having opportunity."
But Alberta's labour movement is deeply suspicious of any incursion into their traditional turf, saying it compromises worker safety and benefits.
In July, five separate construction unions voted to strike, the first such ballot in three decades. The results showed a rising discontent with the breakneck pace of oilsands development among the people charged with building it.
Although the unions haven't yet served strike notices, the threat of a walkout could arise Aug. 8 when the contractors are expected to come back with a counter-offer.
A union proposal put forth in July calls for 14.5 per cent wage increases over two years, barely above Alberta's nation-leading inflation rate of 6.5 per cent.
Another issue for unions are temporary foreign workers.
The skilled labour shortage is a global phenomenon, prompting companies to look overseas for employees.
Alberta Building Trades Council president Ron Harry likens it to a "runaway train." But others just call it union busting.
Gil McGowan, the president of the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL), fired off a letter to provincial authorities after the collapse of a pair of holding tanks at Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.'s Horizon mine site this spring, killing two Chinese workers and injuring four.
It was the second accident in a span of three weeks his organization blamed on inadequate safety standards and the use of unqualified staff.
"From our perspective, these events raise serious questions about construction practices and safety on the site," he said.
"If these temporary workers were on a track to becoming full citizens, it would be less of a concern. But they're not. The vast majority will be treated like Post-it notes -- to be used, discarded and sent back to the countries of origin."
The AFL also questions whether there is actually a labour crisis and what needs to be done to address it.
By the Alberta government's own definition, problems don't start developing in the labour market until the unemployment rate drops below 3.5 per cent.
According to Statistics Canada, Alberta currently has a 6.1 per cent unemployment rate in the construction trades.
McGowan said there are plenty of potential workers to be found in the Aboriginal communities as well as in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Rather than marginalize unions, the government needs to start looking at labour organizations as a potential source of training and for creating new opportunities, he said.
"Organized labour has to be part of the solution."
Calgary Herald, Page A1, Mon Aug 13 2007
Byline: Shaun Polczer
Oilpatch risks turn from value creation to value destruction; Comment; Everybody Wants A Bigger Cut Of The Booming Industry
For the first time in a generation, Alberta is facing a general strike within its construction trades that threatens to disrupt its booming oilsands industry and is introducing a new type of uncertainty --labour unrest.
It's an absurd situation. Alberta has such a severe labour shortage the worker is king. Construction workers, in particular, are among the highest paid, most job secure, most coddled in the world. For its part, the oil industry is earning lavish profits, suggesting it should have plenty of cash to keep labour content as it presses ahead with ambitious oilsands investments.
Underscoring this absurdity is the provincial context -- this is unfolding, after all, in redneck Alberta, where the union movement is about as cherished as the NDP and job action in the oil industry is a distant memory.
Yet five large construction unions have been given strike mandates by their members and can walk out at any time. Another two are getting close to that position. Some 30,000 workers could be involved. They are turning down pay increases that would make most Canadians cringe with envy: 24% over four years, topping up salaries that often exceed $100,000 a year. (A pipefitter or a welder earns basic pay of $44.91 an hour).
Unions know they have oil companies by the neck. The majority of construction workers are employed in projects in Fort McMurray or outside Edmonton related to the oilsands, where companies are under the gun to meet investor expectations while facing severe staff shortages as more projects ramp up.
Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, the largest union group in Alberta, said workers have the right to share in the sector's riches. Besides, he said, the 24% increase offered by the oil companies barely keeps up with the province's inflation.
"It's no secret to the workers in this province that the energy industry has been making record profits. Our question is, 'Why should all those profits go into the hands of managers and investors? Why shouldn't working people see a bigger share of that pie?' " he asked.
It's during boom times that workers get their biggest gains at the bargaining table when they have more leverage, he said.
"It's what business people would do, and I can't understand why anyone would expect working people to behave any differently."
Alberta's construction workers feel entitled to higher rates of pay because the majority work away from home, and rather than returning to their families at the end of the day they face life in a work camp or cramped apartment in Fort McMurray, he said.
The union group believes the solution to the labour crunch is for the provincial government to slow down the pace of oilsands growth, and if that causes companies to leave, then move to public development of the resource, along the lines of what Danny Williams is trying to do in Newfoundland.
Oil companies have big issues of their own: They are trying to contain costs that have trebled and quadrupled in the past few years and represent the biggest risk to oilsands projects. Labour accounts for about half those costs.
They believe they are paying lavish salaries and that they are offering generous pay increases. They are worried Alberta's labour costs are so out of line they are eroding the attractiveness of the oilsands deposits. Meanwhile, labour's increased demands are happening just as a provincial royalty review could recommend at the end of this month a larger provincial take.
Frank Atkins, an economist at the University of Calgary who's been watching the standoff, said the stakes are so high for both sides a settlement is inevitable.
"Those guys on the labour side, they want to work, but they have a legitimate beef. Inflation is biting into them," he said. "What they needed to do is flex their muscle to get the attention, and they did. I don't think you are going to see tremendous wage gains. The companies have a cost problem, and so they want to maintain their costs as low as they can. They are stuck with this expensive labour, they know they need it, they got billions poured into this."
Still, the threat is so serious it's resulted in an overhang in the market on oilsands stocks.
Companies like EnCana Corp., Husky Energy Inc. and Marathon Oil Corp. are pushing projects that could have been done in Alberta south of the border. Marathon, which last week purchased oilsands producer Western Oil Sands Inc., said it can retool its refinery in Detroit to upgrade Canadian heavy crude at about a third of the price of building an upgrader in Alberta.
Some are quietly beefing up their complement of foreign workers.
As the two sides resume bargaining this week, they may want to consider a reality check close to home. The natural gas business in Western Canada has been in recession for about 18 months, destroyed by excessive costs, while its competition in the United States is merrily drilling at a record pace. The finger pointing about who and what killed that boom is still under way.
At some point, the economically fragile oilsands will turn the corner from value creation to value destruction as more and more stakeholders demand a bigger piece. As one executive put it, we're at risk of turning this great resource into a General Motors.
National Post, Page FP3, Tues Aug 7 2007
Byline: Claudia Cattaneo
The temporary foreign worker program is perhaps the most contentious labour issue in the oilsands but a new provincial and federal government agreement is expected to clarify its parameters.
"We'll be able to share information and that'll hopefully help us be alerted to any abuses that could come forward," said Alberta Minister of Employment, Immigration and Industry Iris Evans. "I think you'll see a lot of the concerns that have been emerging addressed," she added, when the agreement is finished in November.
Monte Solberg, federal minister of human resources and social development Canada, said in an announcement the new agreement will include penalties for program abuse, such as refusing future requests for foreign workers. While there must be a "zero tolerance" for abuse and mistreatment, Solberg said "we need to recognize that temporary foreign workers must supplement Canadian labour, not displace it."
With the use of Chinese temporary workers predominant on the oilsands, training and qualifications remain top concerns, said Gil McGowan, Alberta Federation of Labour president.
Training is, he said, "One of the big questions we were asking after the deaths on the tank farm and it's a question we continue to ask: 'Are the workers being brought over from other countries trained up to standards that would be acceptable in Canada?' So far, we haven't been convinced." McGowan is referring to a tank collapse at the Canadian National Resources Ltd. site in April that killed two Chinese temporary workers.
McGowan said neither level of government has adequate screening mechanisms to properly evaluate qualifications.
He said federal bureaucrats have "essentially admitted to me that they only do paper audits on workers coming into the country under the temporary foreign worker program."
That may be acceptable with workers coming from countries with comparable standards to Canada's, but for workers coming from countries like China with lower standards, "Paper audits clearly won't be enough."
He's also concerned about a "loophole" in the practical testing of compulsory certified trades. Workers have up to six months to take the test but can work during that time.
"The paper audits and the loopholes that are being exploited by employment brokers make a mockery of our standards when it comes to training and health and safety," stated McGowan. "We're creating this underclass of workers who are much more vulnerable and much more open to exploitation."
It also discourages employers from investing in domestic training. McGowan asked why companies would invest in a domestic apprentice for four or five years, when they can get, for example, a journeyman right away through the temporary foreign worker program.
"The temporary worker program has been identified as one of the components to get through the human resources challenge," said Brian Maynard, human resources specialist and a vice-president for the Canadian Asociation of Petroleum Producers.
He noted a lot of people accuse the industry of trying to circumvent Alberta's labour movement by using temporary foreign workers.
While that could sometimes be the case, he acknowledged, it's "the most expensive solution we can find."
Costs for this "short-term solution" include such integration issues as moving, transportation, training and regulatory approvals. "It's a real challenge to integrate a temporary foreign worker," he said. Those costly challenges act as an "incentive for companies to hire locally," added Maynard.
MLA Hugh MacDonald, Liberal energy critic, wonders why, with nine other provinces and three territories, employers look overseas.
"Every rock and stone should be overturned looking for people here," he told Today. "I'm not convinced we're making enough of an effort." He added the unemployment rate among First Nations youth aged 15 to 24 is high.
"The last place we should be looking is the temporary foreign worker for exploitation," said MacDonald, adding the program is "designed to drive down Canadian wages and work conditions."
Last year, according to Evan's office, the top three countries suppying temporary foreign workers were the United States with 2,772, Philippines at 2,211 then the United Kingdom at 1,438. China ranks ninth out of the top 12 with 293. The U.S. is generally always the leading country. The year before it was the U.S., U.K. then Australia. The top three positions are babysitters/nannies, parents' helper at nine per cent; general farm workers at six per cent and processional occupations/business management at five per cent. Oilsands workers are not in the top 10. However, a group of "other occupations," which covers the remaining jobs not mentioned could include these workers. But because of the way the federal government collects the data, there's no way to break down this 68.6 per cent. There's also no way of knowing the top three countries supplying foreign workers to oilsands projects.
Fort McMurray Today, Page A1, Fri July 20 2007
Byline: Carol Christian
A union leader says the province has quietly lifted a stop work order imposed on an oilsands tank construction site in northern Alberta after two workers died.
Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, says officials in the Immigration Department told him about the development Thursday.
In a letter to Immigration Minister Iris Evans, McGowan says he believed the stop-work order would remain in place until the end of an investigation into what happened at the site near Fort McMurray.
McGowan wants to know whether the review into the deaths and a second non-fatal collapse three weeks later has been completed.
He has also written a letter to Justice Minister Ron Stevens asking for a public fatality inquiry into the deaths.
The Chinese men were working on the multibillion-dollar Horizon oilsands project belonging to Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ).
The Edmonton Sun, Page 33, Sat July 14 2007