4 of 6 fact sheets issued
Employers getting the green light for TFWs even when there are 2.3 unemployed Albertans for every job vacancy
Edmonton - The president of Alberta's largest worker advocacy group released new figures today, showing Alberta's robust labour market is leaving some Albertans out in the cold.
For the first six months of 2013, the Alberta labour market grew by 81,300 jobs. During that same period, 21,412 temporary foreign workers (TFWs) were brought to work in Alberta.
"The economy is growing at a reasonable pace, but there was a temporary foreign worker brought to Alberta for 26% of those jobs," says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.
At the same time, Statistics Canada reported yesterday there are 2.3 unemployed Albertans for every vacant job.
McGowan says the 2012 figures for Alberta are even more shocking.
The Alberta economy grew by 54,900 new jobs in 2012. However, there were 35,680 temporary foreign workers brought to Alberta that year, meaning there was a temporary foreign worker brought to Alberta for 65% of new jobs in the economy.
McGowan added that the above figures represent only those TFWs who arrived in Alberta in 2012. There were 68,339 total TFWs present in Alberta in 2012, or 124% of new jobs created in the province that year.
The AFL President reiterated his call for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to be scrapped in favour of comprehensive immigration reform that would see foreign workers come to Canada as permanent residents.
Sources: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, CANSIM Tables 282-0001 and 282-0002. Government of Canada, Citizenship and Immigration, Quarterly Data Release.
Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780-218-9888 (cell)
The number of unemployed Canadians outnumbers the number of vacant jobs in Canada.So why are employers bringing in tens of thousands of Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW)?
Canada Jobs Grant will take from the poor, to give to the rich
Edmonton – The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) is asking Premier Alison Redford to refuse the Canada Jobs Grant.
Federal and provincial ministers are meeting this week to discuss the controversial proposal that would see $300 million dollars taken away from existing government-run training programs to help subsidize employer-driven training. On top of seeing federal funds redirected, the program requires provincial governments to come up with additional matching funding. Moving ahead with the Canada Jobs Grant would mean that Alberta’s existing skills training programs would lose $33 million. The total impact to Alberta’s budget would be $66 million.
“There’s no guarantee that these grants won’t just be used for existing training that successful employers are already doing. And to pay for it, they want to scrap programs that are helping disadvantaged people participate in the labour force,” Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. “The Canada Jobs Grant will further marginalize Alberta’s unemployed and underemployed workers. These workers are being passed over for stable, well-paying jobs, and sidelined in today’s economy. They’re robbing Peter to pay Midas.”
In areas with high unemployment rates, the program will be an unmitigated disaster. Employers who cannot afford to hire workers will not be able to afford $5,000 cash for training purposes. If no employers contribute, skills training programs will not otherwise be offered.
“The Canada Jobs Grant is essentially a wholesale privatization of the federal government’s role in skills training,” McGowan said. “There’s no incentive for employers to help train people who have been excluded from the economy, so they’re going to be left behind by this program.”
McGowan also noted that program is limited to short-term training, overlooking the need for workers in health care and the skilled trades, where developing the skills required takes four years or more.
The Alberta Federation of Labour has presented proposals that could help make the proposed grant system more functional.
“It’s key that we make this program work for young workers, for Indigenous Canadians, for women, and we need to see it available regardless of employer’s funding,” McGowan said. “It needs to work for Canadians who are on Employment Insurance, and for areas with high unemployment.”-30-
Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.289.6528 (cell) or via e-mail email@example.com
Wealthy Canadians Praise PM’s Promotion of Plutocracy
Calgary – Policies that are gutting the Canadian middle class are awesome, according to the nation’s ostentatiously wealthy.
At a rally at 1:00 p.m. sharp on Halloween (Oct. 31), affluent activists are gathering outside the BMO Centre in Calgary to thank 2013 Conservative Party of Canada Convention delegates for supporting policies that suppress wages, gut retirement security, and place an unfair burden on middle-class families.
“How could I enjoy my grotesque wealth if average people wouldn’t fight over the scraps from my table?” Canadians For Inequality campaign chair Remmington Smythe said. “We want to thank Stephen Harper for helping make so many Canadians so delightfully poor.”
Smythe, an entirely fictional character, will be played by Calgary-based actor Wally Houn at the protest, which is organized by the Alberta Federation of Labour, the province’s largest worker advocacy organization. Organizers have hired costumed actors to portray Canada’s 1%, who will be holding protest-style placards with lighthearted messages that take aim at Conservative Party policies.
“Our protest may only draw one per cent of the number that you would see at one of those proletarian rabble gatherings,” Smythe said. “But trust me, we have one hundred per cent of the voice.”
The event is intended to satirize how Canada’s governing party has made decisions in the interest of corporations and prosperous individuals, and lavished supporters with lavish perks such as seats in the Senate. Organizers say that policies they’re taking aim at include the expanded Temporary Foreign Worker program, the selling of Canadian natural resources to state-owned foreign firms, and the attack on unions.
“These are very serious issues, but we wanted to tackle them with humour, rather than anger,” Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. “Sometimes satire is the best form of protest.”
Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.289.6528 (cell) or via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Putting local job seekers first in line, but labour union says changes not enough
Employers looking to hire temporary foreign workers will now have to first secure a Labour Market Opinion and pay a corresponding processing fee of $275.
The announcement by Minister of Employment and Social Development Jason Kenney which came into effect on August 1, is part of measures which aim to ensure that employers hire locals first before considering foreign workers.
"Our government's number one priority remains jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity," said Kenney. "These additional reforms help ensure that Canadians are first in line for available jobs. They also ensure that taxpayers no longer pay the cost of processing employer applications for temporary foreign workers."
"Qualified Canadians, including new Canadians, should have first crack at available jobs," added Chris Alexander, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. "These new measures demonstrate that our Government is committed to ensuring the Temporary Foreign Worker program functions as intended."
The processing fee requirement for employers will help curb unnecessary spending of taxpayer money, as was the case in 2012 when 60 percent of positive Labour Market Opinions did not lead to a work permit being issued to a temporary foreign worker, according to the government.
Aside from the LMO requirement, the revised Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations now defines a new language assessment factor that states English and French are the only languages that can be identified as a job requirement, both in LMO requests and in advertisements by employers applying to hire temporary foreign workers, unless employers can demonstrate that another language is essential for the job.
Job advertising requirements have also been extended from two to four weeks, while the 15 per cent pay gap for temporary foreign workers has also been eliminated, according to the government.
The government is also planning to implement rules on the cancellation of work permits as well as the suspension of LMO processing, and requiring employers to submit future plans for transitioning to local employees.
"The reforms announced today and in recent months further strengthen the integrity of the Temporary Foreign Worker program and ensure that more employers hire Canadians before hiring temporary foreign workers," said Kenney. "These improvements help ensure the Temporary Foreign Worker program is only used as intended—to fill acute skills shortages on a temporary basis."
Meanwhile, the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) warns that revisions to the foreign workers program will not be effective against employers who seek to exploit foreign workers.
The AFL, which has long been a critic of the program, says that the $275 Labour Market Opinion processing fee will only cost employers around three and a half cents each hour over the four-year course of a temporary foreign worker's employment duration.
"A lot of these low-wage employers in the service sector will happily pay that for a worker who is willing to work for less for years and is too vulnerable to complain. $275 is a drop in the bucket and will not provide a significant disincentive to any employers who are trying to keep wages low," said Gil McGowan, president of the AFL.
"Leaving the determination of whether TFWs are adversely affecting the economy in the hands of employers to see if Canadians are being displaced is laughable. Low-wage employers can't be relied upon to protect the public interest."
The topic of temporary foreign workers is now popular among politicians, with the number of immigrant workers shooting up to over 340,000 in just 10 years despite poor economic conditions and the number of unemployed locals looking for jobs.
Fanning the flames are reported cases of employers exploiting TFWs.
"The Temporary Foreign Worker Program, which has been greatly expanded since the Conservatives took power in 2006, is discredited, and has lost public support," McGowan said. "They're hoping these changes will make it palatable, but Canadians know exploitation when they see it. Canadians don't want to see the creation of a permanent non-voting underclass of workers who don't have the same rights as other residents of the country."
Beacon News online, Friday, Aug. 9, 2013
Byline: Kharl Prado
The provincial government's demand that Northern Gateway conduct full-scale unannounced marine emergency response drills is not practical, the pipeline company said in its final argument on Monday.
Northern Gateway lawyer Richard Neufeld told the National Energy Board's Joint Review Panel that the number of people that need to be mobilized for a full-scale drill makes them difficult to co-ordinate logistically. He said it would be unfair to mobilize so many provincial and federal officials with no advance warning.
"[The full-scale drills are] beyond industry best practice," Neufeld said, noting that the company supports having unannounced drills for elements of its response plan.
B.C.'s chief legal strategist Geoff Plant said last week that the drills are necessary because at this point in time the province isn't sure if the plans the pipeline company has announced are feasible.
"The general concern all along has been that a lot of what has been put forward by Northern Gateway as evidence of their spill response capacity is more like plans than actual programs and some of the questions asked today is we actually wanted to test drive spill response plans to make sure they actually work," Plant said.
Twice during his final argument, Neufeld called on provincial officials to get together with the federal government and industry so the three groups can get on the same page regarding what's needed to make the marine response "world class."
Neufeld broke his nearly two-hour final argument into four themes: economic need for the pipeline; respect; the need for good science and balancing the public interest with regional effects.
He said the construction phase will generate 62,000 person years of employment and disputed claims by the Alberta Federation of Labour that those jobs were inconsequential in the long run.
"Those jobs will do more than provide a paycheque," Neufeld said. "It will provide income, enduring skills and more than that, hope."
In his section on respect, Neufeld said it was unfair that intervener groups had called Northern Gateway "dismissive, insulting and arrogant" during their final argument. Yet at the same time he consistently failed to identify Skeena-Bulkey Valley NDP MP Nathan Cullen by name, referring to the pipeline opponent as "the politician who called in from Ottawa" on more than one occassion. Neufeld named all other interveners directly.
The good science category was taken up by rebuttals on the fate of diluted bitumen in water, the threat posed by geohazards along the proposed right of way and the effects of routine marine operations on wildlife.
"The Internet is full of publications not supported by science," Neufeld said.
In his final section, Neufeld took on the request made by some intervener groups that Northern Gateway use tougher pipe and apply multi-layer coatings to reduce the risk of a rupture.
Neufeld said the company is sticking to its plan to use category one pipe for most of the route and category two on certain areas where it's required. He didn't mention category three pipe at all.
Earlier Monday, Prince George engineer Chris Peter told the panel that Northern Gateway is saying one thing in its filing and saying something different to the media when Ray Doering, the company's manager of engineering, speculated to the Citizen last week that category three pipe is being considered.
"Would a trial lawyer be able to try his case in the press without making the same case in court?" Peter asked.
The three members of the panel, Hans Matthews, Kenneth Bateman and chairwoman Sheila Leggett concluded the hearings by offering their thanks to everyone who participated in the process.
"Everyone has worked to provide the panel with the best evidence possible and we thank you for that," Leggett said.
They will begin their deliberations shortly and provide recommendations to the federal cabinet by the end of the year.
The Prince George Citizen, Wednesday, June 27, 2013
Byline: Peter James