Changes to TFW program will allow employers to slash wages
The federal government has put corporate profits ahead of the needs of Canadian workers with the changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program announced today, says Alberta's largest labour group. "We have said all along that the TFW program was being used to drive down the wages paid to Canadian workers and, today, the federal government confirmed this in writing," says Nancy Furlong, Secretary Treasurer of the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) which represents 145,000 workers. The background document attached to the government's media release says: "A new wage structure will also be introduced to provide employers with greater flexibility. Wages that are up to 15 per cent below the average wage for an occupation in a specific region will be accepted." Furlong says: "This government claims it believes in the free market, but doesn't want to allow the free market to apply to workers and their wages. Instead, it interferes to drive down wages in the interest of its corporate paymasters." She said she was disappointed, but not surprised, to see that these changes came after consultation with employers. "The Harper government didn't even bother to consult with Canadian workers. They consulted only with employers, many of whom are foreign-owned. We asked to take part in these consultations, but they weren't interested," says Furlong. "We think Canadians and Albertans should be concerned with this blatant disregard for the needs of citizens and how the federal government has put corporate profits ahead of its own people. "There are 1.4 million Canadians looking for work. Giving employers quicker access to foreign workers and allowing employers to slash wages by up to 15 per cent means most of them will remain out of work. That means they will continue to be a strain on Employment Insurance or government support programs, instead of working and paying taxes. The government is telling these Canadians that they are not needed," she says. "In a report last year titled Impact of the TFW Program on the Labour Market in Alberta, the provincial government said the TFW program is bad for our economy. It also leaves vulnerable foreign workers open to all kinds of abuse. So why are we expanding it? We will soon have 100,000 TFWs in this province. How many do we need? "The real solution to the labour shortage in Alberta is to follow the advice of former premier Peter Lougheed and set a more reasonable pace of development in the oil sands. We hope the newly elected Redford government is listening to him," says Furlong.
MEDIA CONTACT: Nancy Furlong, AFL Secretary Treasurer, 780-483-3012 or 780-720-8945