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Alberta Companies Given Green Light to Underpay Thousands of TFWs

Evidence shows Harper government continues to allow TFW program to undermine Canadian wages

EDMONTON, ALBERTA -- (Marketwired) -- 08/15/14 -- The wages of Canadians are continuing to be undermined by the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

Internal government documents obtained by the Alberta Federation of Labour show that Alberta companies were given the green light to underpay thousands of Temporary Foreign Workers in 2013.

The documents are the latest evidence that the misuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is deliberate, pervasive and not limited to a few sectors of the Canadian economy.

"These documents are a snapshot of what was happening while Jason Kenney, the minister responsible for the program, was telling the public he had taken steps to better monitor and enforce the rules around the program," Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. "Behind closed doors, they knew the rules were being bent and broken, and they knew thousands of TFWs were being underpaid and used as pawns to drive down wages for all Albertans."

In 2013, 3,718 individual positions were approved across Canada in the low-skill categories, under 535 Labour Market Opinions (LMO).

Of those permits, the vast majority - 2,122 of them - were issued to employers in Alberta under 294 Labour Market Opinions.

TFWs were brought in to be paid less than Canadians as truck drivers, shipping and receiving, service station attendants, as health care workers, nurse aides, front desk clerks, metal fabrication labourers, delivery drivers, woodworking machine operators, heavy equipment operators, machining tool operators, automotive mechanics, mine labourers, and concrete, clay, and stone forming operators.

"As you look at these documents, it's pretty clear that the problems in the Temporary Foreign Worker program extend far beyond the food services industry," McGowan said. "These documents show the TFW program is being used to keep wages low, and to pay people less than what is paid to Canadians."

TFWP regulations give Minister Kenney's department the power to deny work permits if wages offered a worker in the Program are below prevailing regional wages for that particular occupation.

"PC leadership candidates, Conservative Members of Parliament, even Justin Trudeau are whining about the changes to the TFW Program," McGowan said. "Whenever you hear a politician fighting to expand the TFW program, you know that they're working for low-wage lobbyists and insiders, not for the good of Albertans."

The documents, which contain records from all Canadian provinces and territories, can be accessed here:

LMOs issued for less than prevailing wage rates

Overview of locations and jobs where TFWs were paid less than Canadians

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