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Coalition Calls for Timelines on Reversal of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program Decision

CALGARY, ALBERTA -- (Marketwired) -- 04/30/14 -- The Alberta Coalition for Action on Labour Shortages (ACALS) calls on the Federal Government to establish a timeline for when it will restore the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program for the food services sector and asks for a commitment from the Government to consult with industry before making any further changes to the program. Coalition members believe that Canadians benefit from a well functioning food service industry and are concerned with the impact the Government's decision could have on Canadians.

"While only two percent of the 1.1 million Canadians who work for the restaurant industry are temporary foreign workers, without them many restaurants could reduce hours leaving Canadians without work," says ACALS member and Vice President of Restaurants Canada, Mark Schellwitz. "The vast majority of restaurant owners who employ temporary foreign workers are using the program in complete compliance. It's very frustrating for them, and their employees, to be punished for the actions of others. "

The Federal Government has recently introduced new legislative and regulatory tools to help ensure the TFW program functions properly. For example, increasing the Government's authority to suspend and revoke Work Permits and Labour Market Opinions if the program is being misused.

"The business community has been telling government for some time that if abuses are found in the TFW program, government should go after those users," says Richard Truscott of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. "The decision to suspend the program for an entire sector because of allegations of misuse by a few players sets a troubling precedent."

The Government also now requires businesses to pay a fee to process TFW requests and requires companies seeking to hire temporary foreign workers to develop and plan to transition to more Canadians in their workplaces. Applicants under the program must also certify that the program is not being used to facilitate the outsourcing of Canadian jobs.

The Government should use the tools it recently put in place to improve the program," Truscott adds, "The government would never suspend the Employment Insurance Program because of allegations of abuses or would not suspend driving because people speed."

The Alberta Coalition for Action on Labour Shortages has been working with both the federal and provincial governments on strategies to ensure that more Canadians can participate in the workforce. Members of the Coalition have participated in consultations on the Canada Jobs Grant Program, have participated extensively in local career fairs and dozens of initiatives aimed at helping more underemployed Canadians to enter the workforce. Coalition members remain committed to working with government on programs that will help more Canadians find employment and recommends that improvements also be made in the following areas:

--  Further reforms to the immigration system to ensure that immigrants with
    the skills needed by Canadian employers are brought in on a priority
--  More and better paths to permanent residency for foreign workers
--  An investment into better labour market information
--  The development of more regional criteria for the Temporary Foreign
    Worker Program
--  Punish the employers who are found guilty of abusing the Temporary
    Foreign Worker Program
--  Publish the results of investigations regarding alleged abuses of the
    Temporary Foreign Worker Program when allegations are found to be wrong

BACKGROUNDER: The Alberta Coalition for Action on Labour Shortages (ACALS)

ACALS members collectively employ hundreds of thousands of Albertans and represent every sector area of the province - from small businesses to large employers.

The coalition came together in late 2011 to identify areas of common interest and work together to identify solutions.

The Alberta Coalition for Action on Labour Shortages is:

Agriculture Industry Labour Council - Alberta; Alberta Chambers of Commerce; Alberta Construction Association; Alberta Forest Products Association; Alberta Motor Transport Association; Alberta Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association; Calgary Economic Development; Canadian Association of Geophysical Contractors; Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors; Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers; Canadian Energy Pipeline Association; Canadian Federation of Independent Business; Canadian Home Builders' Association - Alberta; Consulting Engineers of Alberta; Edmonton Economic Development Corporation; Landscape Alberta; Merit Contractors Association; Petroleum Services Association of Canada; Progressive Contractors Association of Canada; Restaurants Canada; Talent Pool Development Society

Media Contact:
Restaurants Canada
Mark Von Schellwitz
Vice President, Western Canada

Canadian Federation of Independent Business
Richard Truscott
Alberta Director

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