Calling Alberta the "Dubai of the North" is insulting to the Arab city, says the provincial employment and immigration minister.
Thomas Lukazsuk is reacting to a comment made by the boss of the Alberta Federation of Labour, who said employers in the province are choosing to hire cheap imported labour over locals, a trend seen in many Arab cities.
"Would that make me a blue-eyed sheik then?" Lukazsuk said tongue in cheek.
"A comment like this is very insulting to Dubai," he said, noting there are many people in Alberta from that city.
Gil McGowan, president of the labour group, said Lukazsuk got it backwards because Dubai, a city in United Arab Emirates is known for building its economy on the backs of imported cheap labour.
"We're becoming the Dubai or Saudi Arabia of the North, not only because we have oil, but because we're abandoning real immigration in favour of using an exploitative guest worker program to fill our most menial and undesirable jobs," he said.
"We've joined a global underground railway trading in human misery.
"It's a shameful transformation and a betrayal of Canadian values and our traditional approach to immigration," said McGowan.
New figures from the federal government show that the number of approved applications for employers wanting to bring imported workers into Alberta soared by 37% between 2009 and 2010, rising by 11,655 to a total of 42,885.
McGowan said no other province comes close to Alberta in terms of the per capita usage of the federal government's Temporary Foreign Workers program.
Lukazsuk said employers are not choosing to bring imported workers because they're cheap labour, but there's simply a staggering lack of people to take the jobs.
"Even if we are 100 per cent successful in putting all Canadians to work we still would be short," said the minister.
"We will be relying on foreign workers, but what we really need are permanent foreign workers," said Lukazsuk, who has been critical of the federal program.
The minister said it costs more to employers to bring foreigners than it is to hire locals because the wage required to pay either is the same and there's extra expenses incurred for flying them here and finding accommodation.
While McGowan recognizes there are labour rules regulating wages, but insisted vulnerable imported workers tend to take lower pay, keep quiet in spite of abuses and not assert their rights for fear of losing jobs.
Lukazsuk said his department has established offices in Calgary and Edmonton to look after those issues and some abusive employers have been prosecuted.
Calgary Sun, Thurs July 28 2011 Byline: Renato Gandia
NISKU – Alberta businesses, frustrated by red tape and delays in hiring temporary foreign workers, got a break Wednesday from the federal government.
Human Resources and Skills Development Minister Diane Finley announced that companies with an unblemished two-year history of hiring temporary workers from abroad will be allowed to apply for fast-tracked hiring permission.
"Employers with a strong track record in need of high-skilled workers will be able to obtain a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) within 10 business days," Finley said. "Even better news, this is effective immediately."
The Alberta Federation of Labour, however, said the announcement isn't all good news.
The new rules will result in lower wages for skilled workers and aggravate problems associated with a temporary foreign workforce, including people staying on illegally after their contracts expire, said AFL secretary-treasurer Nancy Furlong.
"If there is an ongoing need for workers, why not bring them in as permanent citizens?" asked Furlong, noting that labour groups were not invited to consultations over the changes.
Until now, companies had to pay workers what is known as the "prevailing wage." But that requirement now changes in the high-skill trades category.
"For added flexibility, wages up to 15 per cent below the average wage rate will be accepted so long as it can be clearly demonstrated the same wages are being paid to Canadian workers," Finley said at Wednesday's news conference in Nisku.
Furlong argued that 15-per-cent rule "interferes with supply and demand forces in the economy."
But getting that break on wages is a key factor to Ron Buchhorn, whose company runs a manufacturing business in Alberta and desperately needs welders and heavy-duty mechanics.
"Manufacturing cannot compete with wages in the primary industries — oilsands and mining and potash," said Buchhorn, vice-president of human resources for Advanced Engineering Products. His company is looking for 80 skilled workers for its operations here and in Saskatchewan.
In Alberta, "we can't compete with fly-in" work camps around Fort McMurray, which pay high wages and cover housing costs for workers, he added.
The company, which received the first speedy LMO on Wednesday, has looked for workers in Ontario and the Maritimes, but can't find the people it needs. These new rules "will enable us to increase our manufacturing capacity and increase service so we'll be more successful."
Under federal rules, employers must apply for LMOs before they can hire a foreign worker. The company must prove it has made an effort to recruit locally and within the country. If that was not successful, the company must then apply to Service Canada for permission to hire someone for a two-year period from outside the country.
But the process to get an LMO has been taking months, which is too long for many companies, says David MacLean, spokesman for the Alberta Enterprise Group, a business group that lobbies on economic issues.
"The temporary foreign worker process, as it stands, was too burdensome, too cumbersome, too complicated and there was too much red tape," said MacLean. "It just wasn't working to meet the needs in this economy."
The new rules apply to skilled labour categories only and the federal government expects to process about 150,000 temporary foreign worker applications from across the country this year, said Finley.
Bill Stewart of Merit Contractors Association calls the changes a step in the right direction, but just one piece of the puzzle to solve the looming labour shortage. His organization of non-union construction companies is eager to see details about how companies qualify to get on the preferred list.
"Recruiting internationally is not the first choice for construct industry as it's not cheap," he said.
Stewart says the merit contractors are also heartened by the efforts of federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who is looking at changing immigration rules to let more skilled tradesmen into the country. Only a fraction of the 250,000 immigrants admitted annually are skilled workers, Kenney said, and that has to change.
Finley said the new system will cut paperwork for businesses since they'll be able to apply online. New compliance monitoring will ensure companies are treating workers fairly. She also said businesses who violate the rules will have their ability to hire temporary foreign workers suspended for two years.
Calgary Herald, Wed Apr 25 2012 Byline: Sarah O'Donnell and Sheila Pratt
With Alberta's economy steaming ahead, industry leaders are welcoming a new federal immigration program designed to ease a shortage of skilled tradespeople.
The federal government announced Tuesday it is creating a separate queue for foreign tradespeople in an effort to combat labour shortages in construction and resource-based industries.
The new stream for tradespeople will place a greater emphasis on their practical training and work experience, rather than formal education.
"In the past it was virtually impossible for skilled tradespeople to get in through our rigid economic programs at the federal level," Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said in a speech at the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.
"And this meant that the Polish welder . . . American tradespeople couldn't get in through the skilled worker program.
"They didn't have a postsecondary degree."
Foreign workers are assessed against a 100-point grid examining several factors, including proficiency in English or French, education, work experience and whether they have arranged employment.
Proficiency in one of Canada's official languages remains important for skilled workers, said Kenney, but there will be more flexibility for tradespeople.
"You don't need university-level English to weld pipe. You need a workable level of English," he said.
Kenney said he hopes the new program, with a revamped grid for tradespeople, will be in place by the end of 2012.
The minister estimated the program may only see a few thousand applicants at first, but expects that number to increase. "It will probably start as a fairly small stream," Kenney told reporters afterward. "It could grow into the tens of thousands."
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers welcomed the news, saying the industry is expecting to spend $55 billion on capital projects in 2012. "It's going to require a lot of skilled labour to address this growth," spokesman Travis Davies said.
Hiring Canadiantrained workers and increasing mobility between provinces are favoured methods of finding workers, but Davies said those measures alone won't meet the industry's needs.
"We have to look beyond our borders," he said.
Alberta's largest labour organization, however, is concerned the scheme is moving in the wrong direction.
"The real question is whether we should be opening the floodgates to tradespeople from outside the country when we have 1.4 million Canadians looking for work," said Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour. "We're concerned that giving employers quicker access to foreign journeyman is going to remove the incentive for construction employers to take on Canadian apprentices and train the next generation of Canadian tradespeople."
Canada admitted 48,678 people via the skilled worker program in 2010, but the government estimates only about three per cent of them are skilled tradespeople.
Overall, Canada has allowed an average of 254,000 permanent residents into the country per year since 2006.
The announcement Tuesday is the latest in a series of reforms to the immigration system recently unveiled by the federal government.
While the oil and gas sector may be a beneficiary of Tuesday's announcement, it's not the only sector concerned about a labour crunch.
"Labour shortages are the biggest economic drag on Alberta," said Ben Brunnen, chief economist at the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.
"The challenges our members are having are attracting and maintaining good employees. The demand in Alberta is across the board."
Dawn Farrell, president and CEO of TransAlta, said finding skilled workers is "a greater and greater problem almost every day" for the power company.
While TransAlta struggles to find workers in Alberta, it has plants in the U.S. with high rates of unemployment, said Farrell. "We're working together with the federal government on how to address that," she said.
All of the government's recent reforms are aimed at better matching foreign-trained workers with jobs here and reducing the time it takes to process their applications, said Kenney.
Part of the government's plan is creating a job bank of qualified applicants that prospective employers could use to find workers.
The government also plans to hire an outside company to evaluate the credentials of foreign skilled worker applicants in licensed professions, such as medicine or law.
The idea, Kenney said, is to give would-be newcomers an idea of how their credentials stack up against someone with a similar Canadian education. "We can give those applicants an indication of whether they have a better than even chance of getting their licence in Canada," he said.
Calgary immigration lawyer Raj Sharma said the dedicated stream for tradespeople should help address labour shortages.
But Sharma added he's concerned the government is placing too high an emphasis on matching newcomers with specific occupations.
Demand for certain jobs and professions can come and go, Sharma said and added it's also important to focus on an immigrant's work ethic and ability to adapt. "Looking at attributes, rather than a job description, is probably better," he said.
To speed up processing times for skilled worker applications, Kenney said it was necessary for the government to eliminate a huge backlog and close the files of anyone who applied before the end of February 2008.
Opponents have criticized the move, which may affect up to 300,000 people, but Kenney said Canada was losing too many skilled workers who opted to settle elsewhere instead of waiting years to get into Canada.
"The best and brightest were choosing not to come here," he said.
Sharma called the action a "tragedy," saying it unfairly penalized applicants who tried coming to Canada legally instead of jumping the queue with illegitimate refugee claims or by sneaking into Canada.
"It's not their fault (the government) couldn't process. These people put their lives on hold," he said.
Calgary Herald, Wed Apr 11 2012 Byline: Jason Van Rassel
The Canadian Construction Association (CCA) and a group of Alberta business associations are pushing for immigration reform to deal with a shortage of skilled labour.
The initiatives are happening at the same time the federal government is proposing changes to the skilled worker program.
"Canada's current immigration system does not adequately address the needs of the Canadian construction industry or the projected growth of the Canadian economy," said Michael Atkinson, president of the CCA.
"On the surface, the reforms outlined sound like they would go a long way to addressing the challenges that employers currently face to bring in skilled workers, which would ultimately contribute to a more competitive Canadian economy."
Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney outlined plans for immigration reform, during a keynote address to the National Metropolis Conference on March 1.
The minster highlighted changes to the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), which would require applicants to have a job offer in Canada or experience in one of 29 occupations in demand.
The Federal Skilled Worker Program is Canada's most important pathway for immigrants to obtain permanent residency.
For several years, the CCA has been advocating for reforms to the FSWP, which make the immigration system more user friendly to the construction industry.
While Kenney was talking about a vision for immigration reform, a group of 19 business organizations called the Alberta Coalition for Action on Labour Shortages (ACALS) is asking the federal government to take action to deal with labour shortages in western Canada.
"Overall, what the group is saying is that we need recognition that the pending labour shortage has got to move up on the public policy agenda, in order for the economy to move forward," said Bill Stewart, vice president of Merit Contractors Association in Alberta, which is a member of the ACALS.
"The federal government knows there are labour market needs that could be better met by looking at how points are allocated to specific sectors under the skilled worker program."
Both Stewart and Atkinson agree that the current immigration system puts too much emphasis on language proficiency and post secondary education.
A maximum of 16 points (out of a total of 100) is awarded for high proficiency in the first official language.
Education points are awarded based on the credential and the number of associated years of education.
Skilled tradespeople often have a credential in their trade, but not the required years of education, so they lose points.
The latest data released by Statistics Canada last week shows that 36,770 skilled workers obtained Canadian permanent residency in 2011.
Skilled tradespeople make up a very small share of the total number of these people, who are entering Canada under the FSWP.
Added to this problem, a large backlog has developed over the last several years, as applications have outstripped annual processing targets.
As a result, there are significant delays in processing applications, with some application not being looked at for more than four years.
As of June 30th, 313,825 applications remained in the backlog.
"Regardless of the backlog, the current system does not work very well for the trades or technical requirements," said Stewart. "Under the current system, only 3.0 per cent of the people have a trades background."
In response to this problem, Citizenship and Immigration Canada is proposing to increase the maximum points awarded for proficiency in the first official language from 16 to 20, while establishing minimum language requirements, depending on the immigrant's occupational skill level.
According to Kenney, the new points system will place greater emphasis on the importance of language and recognize that a doctor and a welder need a different language ability to successfully integrate in Canada.
The Construction Sector Council forecasts rising labour requirements for new construction in Alberta between 2011 and 2019 will increase the labour force by 30,000 workers.
At the same time, expected exits from the labour force due to retirements and mortality total 35,000 workers.
Half of the total requirements will be met with 26,000 new entrants, which means there is a shortage of 40,000 construction workers that will need to come from outside Alberta.
The ACALS argues that the reform of the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program is an important part of an overall strategy to fill this labour shortage.
For example, the Alberta Federation of Labour argues that calls to expand the TFW are designed to drive down the wages in the province.
"Blowing the doors off the TFW program is not the solution that Alberta needs," said Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.
Instead, McGowan recommends that the government follow the advice of former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed and set a more reasonable pace of development in the oilsands.
He said that a more reasonable pace of development will allow labour needs to be met by the existing labour force in Canada.
Journal of Commerce, Wed Mar 7 2012 Byline: Richard Gilbert
EDMONTON - With an unemployment rate of 4.9 percent, Alberta currently fares better than any other Canadian province. But despite being fairly insulated from the economic turmoil plaguing the rest of the world, our oil-rich province's economy is not without problems.
Unlike south of the border, though, Alberta's biggest labour worry is that there are actually 114,000 more jobs than people to fill them.
So in an effort to help find solutions to that predicament, the Alberta Coalition for Action on Labour shortage, comprised of 19 groups and businesses, has been formed. Its key message is that it should be easier for people to come and work in our prairie province.
"If you look at the issue of labour shortages, the problem is getting worse, not better," said Tim Shipton of the Alberta Enterprise Group.
"Right now...the governments seem to be talking at each other and not engaging in a conversation about the issues and finding productive, positive ways forward," added Richard Truscott with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
To reverse that trend, the coalition believes the government should help by easing immigration restrictions.
On the provincial front, they say to write to the Minister of Human Services, Dave Hancock, who tells us he's already in agreement.
"While we need to make sure that every Albertan has an opportunity to get the skills they need to participate in the economy, even with that we're going to need others."
It's a realization that some local businesses can support.
At Edmonton's All-Weather Windows, Paul Taylor said they're really starting to notice the talent pool shrinking as the number of job applications aren't keeping pace with order forms.
"It's just harder to get the right people into the organization," he said.
And while they remember this pattern from the last boom, this time, experts say there's a big difference: this boom isn't expected to be about western Canada's oil industry, but rather, it is due largely to an aging population and too many retirees.
Not everyone agrees with the new coalition's views, though. The Alberta Federation of Labour believes the problem facing Alberta is what it considers to be the government's failure to set a reasonable pace to oilsands development.
"If these employers really want to be able to man these projects, then they should talk to the government about approving 5 or 10 projects at once instead of 65 multi-billion dollar projects going on all at the same time," said the AFL's Gil McGowan.
He considers the coalition's solution of loosening immigration restrictions to be a short-term solution which will have long-term consequences of lowered wages.
McGowan said a better alternative would be for projects to be stretched out over longer periods of time "so that our existing Canadian construction labour force can do the work and then we can have 23 to 30 years of good employment for our trades people as oppposed to 5 years of intense development by temporary foreign workers followed by a bust, because I believe that's where we're headed."
While the groups may disagree on how to achieve change, both agree on that finding political solutions is especially important now, before the problem becomes even more widespread.
Global TV Edmonton, Fri Mar 2 2012
The federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program has become a necessary evil, fraught with so many troubling issues that we must hold our nose while applauding changes announced to it this week by Human Resources and Skills Development Minister Diane Finley. Effective immediately, companies with an unblemished two-year history of hiring temporary workers can get expedited government approval — a so-called Labour Market Opinion (LMO) — within 10 business days.
The Alberta government welcomed the changes, with reservations. “The Temporary Foreign Worker Program is not the be-all and end-all. It is a way to get workers when we need them,” said Alberta Human Services Minister Dave Hancock. But the real key, he said, is residency. “The permanence is an important factor . . . . Ideally, you want somebody who will actually come to stay.”
Unlike the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, which limits a workers’ stay to four years, the Alberta government would rather see changes to the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP), which allows individuals, along with their spouse or common-law partner and dependent children, to apply for a permanent resident visa through Citizenship and Immigration Canada, a federal department. It is a more human approach. Under AINP, the province is allowed to nominate 5,000 such workers. It wants to see that cap either doubled or removed entirely. Ottawa is the final arbiter on all applications.
Until the AINP is expanded, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) remains the less desirable option to combat labour shortages. Alberta has long complained that the four-year cap on how long a temporary worker can stay in this country penalizes Canadian companies. After providing skills training, and often helping them with language fluency, companies are then forced to essentially kick these employees out of the country, thus enabling other nations to benefit from the training we provide.
Alberta Liberal Leader Raj Sherman, who comes from an immigrant family, also argues that the TFWP can be cruel. Although spouses and dependants can come under the TFWP, they are often left behind because of the uncertainty of the labour situation. Sherman says money is often sent back home to support families left behind, meaning that it leaves the Canadian economy.
The new TFWP also allows companies to pay workers 15 per cent below the average wage for a job in a specific region, as long as the wages are consistent with Canadian workers, based on Statistics Canada figures. That, too, is problematic. As Nancy Furlong, secretary-treasurer of the Alberta Federation of Labour notes, it could discourage Canadians from other provinces coming to a more expensive place like Alberta.
“They’re trying to drive down salaries and wages and frankly I don’t think that’s the job of our government to take one side, that being business, and find them ways of making money off the backs of citizens of the country by allowing them to drive wages down.”
It’s past time to address the flaws in this useful program that helps bring in the kind of workers we need, only to kick them out once they’ve settled in.
Calgary Herald, Fri Apr 27 2012
CALGARY — Overreliance on temporary foreign workers to remedy Alberta's labour shortages will hurt both domestic and imported workforces, local labour and immigration organizations said.
The federal government introduced several changes to its temporary foreign worker program last month, including measures that would allow employers to pay wages up to 15 per cent below the average in their region. Demand for workers as industries in Alberta continue to expand should lead to higher wages, but the province's largest union organization said the federal government's moves will do the opposite.
"They're using workers as pawns to drive down wages and conditions at a time when wages and conditions should be going up in Alberta's hot labour market," said Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.
The program allows employers to pay temporary workers up to 15 per cent less for high-skill occupations and up to five per cent below average wages for low-skill jobs. The wages are determined using Statistics Canada data; low-skill workers can't be paid less than the local minimum wage.
Ottawa said the wage rules offer "flexibility" to employers and does not permit them to pay a foreign worker less than a Canadian doing the same job in the same region.
"Under the old wage structure, employers were required to pay temporary foreign workers at least the average wage for an occupation in a specific region, regardless of what they were paying their Canadian employees. In many cases, this resulted in employers paying temporary foreign workers more than Canadians," a spokesperson from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada said in an e-mailed statement.
While McGowan has specific criticisms of the wage rules, his union's aim is to see the temporary foreign worker program abolished.
Rather than investing the time and expense of training apprentices, industries that rely heavily on tradespeople can bring in foreign workers instead, McGowan said, adding that short-term fix could lead to a long-term, structural shortage of skilled tradespeople if Canadian workers opt for other occupations because of a lack of jobs in industries employing temporary foreign labour.
"There's no doubt employers in places like Alberta are having a hard time finding the workers they need," he said, "but it's become the first choice (for employers), rather than the last resort. Policy-makers should be looking first at finding ways of opening doors for unemployed workers here in Canada."
In 2011, Citizenship and Immigration Canada recorded 190,769 temporary workers entering the country; 25,542 in Alberta. An annual measurement on Dec. 1 counted a total of 300,111 TFWs in Canada; 58,228 in Alberta.
Under the program, workers can stay for four years and aren't provided with an opportunity to settle in Canada when their term is over.
An advocate for new Canadians said a long-term strategy would yield better results for employers and be more fair to workers coming to Canada.
"They ignore the fact that some of these positions people are being hired for are permanent jobs, so why are they not addressing that through an immigration policy?" said Fariborz Birjandian, executive director of the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society.
Calgary Herald, Tues May 22 2012 Byline: Jason Van Rassel
Alberta's temporary foreign workers -- which number in the tens of thousands -- will finally get some much-needed government help.
On June 1, the provincial government quietly launched a $1.4-million pilot project to help temporary foreign workers settle in the province.
The two-year project will give money to nine immigration organizations across the province, allowing them to expand their services to include temporary foreign workers.
Previously, government funding for centres that help immigrants was earmarked for immigrants only. But at least 23,000 temporary foreign workers have flooded into Alberta over the last few years and when they seek help from such centres they are often turned away.
"This is a long overdue step in the right direction," said Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.
Temporary foreign workers are especially vulnerable to exploitation, McGowan said. He calls them an "underclass of workers" because many of them face the threat of being shipped home if they complain.
The Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers receives about a dozen inquires from temporary workers every day, said executive director Jim Gurnett. Questions range from where to find housing to how to deal with abusive employers.
Calgary Herald, Fri July 11 2008Byline: Jennifer Yang
FROM LAST RESORT TO FIRST CHOICE: How the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is flooding the market, not filling a need
During the recession, Alberta lost tens of thousands of jobs. Yet, we brought in tens of thousands of Temporary Foreign Workers. In 2011, the economy recovered and began creating jobs. But there was a Temporary Foreign Worker present in Alberta for three of every four jobs created.
Over the past four years, Alberta has brought in thousands more Temporary Foreign Workers than jobs created. This report – the latest in a series by the Alberta Federation of Labour on the Temporary Foreign Worker program – shows there is no need for the TFW program. Thousands of Albertans are out of work or involuntarily working part-time. The evidence is stark: Alberta employers are bringing in more TFWs than are needed to fill the new jobs the economy is creating. This report shows what we have known for some time: while there are shortages in select few trades or skills, there is no economy-wide labour shortage in Alberta. There is a shortage of people willing to work for less, and that is why Alberta continues to bring in thousands of Temporary Foreign Workers every year, even when the economy sheds jobs.
Abuse of foreign workers must be stopped, says labour group: Alberta government action needed in light of new criminal charges, says AFL
News of criminal charges being laid in relation to welders and machinists from Poland and Ukraine working in Alberta is more evidence of widespread violation of employment laws and the abuse of foreign workers, says the province's largest labour group.
"It has been clear for some time that the processes used to bring foreign workers to Alberta aren't working," says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, which represents 145,000 workers. "Foreign workers are vulnerable because they fear deportation and are not always aware of their rights. The Alberta government must not stand idly by while workers are being abused, and while laws are being violated."
Charges laid by the RCMP today allege that foreign workers were told they faced fines of $25,000 and deportation if they breached their contracts, and that up to nine workers had to share three-bedroom apartments. They were allegedly told they could work legally after six months and bring their families to Canada.
The workers were also allegedly contracted out to several northern Alberta businesses which were charged a much higher hourly rate for the services of each foreign worker than was paid to the workers. It is alleged that the recruiters profited by more than $1,000,000 from April 2006 to September 2006 by sub-contracting the foreign workers to various companies.
Last year, the NDP revealed government documents that showed 74 per cent of Alberta businesses hiring temporary foreign workers that were subject to inspection had violated the labour code.
"The brokers who bring in foreign workers must be subject to far more monitoring and inspection by the Employment and Immigration ministry. There must also be a much greater willingness to prosecute brokers and employers who violate the province's labour code. Sadly, there are very few prosecutions because, it seems, this government lacks the will power to take action against violators," says McGowan.
"The TFW program in particular is rife with abuse. Workers are charged thousands of dollars in illegal fees, often live in homes owned by employers or agencies who charge outrageous rents, are told to work long hours while being denied fair rates of pay - but are afraid to complain because their employer can lay them off and have them deported."
- 30 -
CONTACT: Gil McGowan, AFL president, is in Calgary and will be available for interviews until 3 p.m. He can be reached at780-218-9888.
Alberta Federation of Labour to call for inquiry in light of growing evidence of fraud
Edmonton – A list of fast-tracked temporary foreign worker applications shows that scandals at Royal Bank and HD Mining are just the tip of the iceberg.
The document, which the Alberta Federation of Labour will release at a press conference on Tuesday, April 9, lists all approved TFW applications in the first eight months of the new Accelerated Labour Market Opinion (ALMO) process. Thousands of ALMO guest worker permits – which are supposed to be reserved for highly-skilled employment – have been granted to fast-food restaurants, convenience stores and gas stations.
"You look down this list, and it's McDonalds, Tim Hortons, A&W, Subway sandwiches. Are we supposed to believe that these are 'high-skill' employment opportunities?" Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. "These permits are being used to replace Canadian workers with people who will have reduced bargaining power."
What: Alberta Federation of Labour to release list of Temporary Foreign Worker program "high-skilled" employer list
Where: Crowne Plaza Chateau Lacombe HotelRiver Valley Room, Lobby Level10111 Bellamy Hill Rd NW, Edmonton
When: 1:30 PM, Tuesday, April 9
Who: Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan
Olav Rokne, AFL Communications Director at 780-289-6528 (cell) or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unite to prevent exploitation, improve conditions for Canada's rising number of temporary workers
Last fall, in a dingy boardroom in Ottawa, a group of union leaders sat uncomfortably with migrant worker advocates to discuss Canada's growing use of temporary foreign workers to fill labour shortages.
Union reps in construction trades, food and service industries raised concerns over migrants' substandard credentials and displacement of union jobs, while advocates complained about Canada's protected labour market and employers who exploit foreign workers.
"There was definitely discomfort and tension in the room," recalled Karl Flecker, a national director of the Canadian Labour Congress, who was at the meeting. "It was a frank dialogue, but people were cautious of one another."
Despite their differences, they formed an alliance and have been meeting regularly to discuss labour rights, strategize political lobbying, share information on corporate abusers and unscrupulous recruiters and build bridges with migrant-sending countries - a counterforce, they say, against the globalization of cheap labour.
Increasingly, the union movement has been turning its attention to the plight of migrant labourers and temporary foreign workers as their numbers increase and, in many cases, their poor working conditions come to light.
While western countries often use immigration to address labour shortages and maintain population growth, more and more they're relying on temporary guest workers.
In Canada the number of foreign temporary workers has risen from 122,848 to 165,198 in the last two years, while the number of landed immigrants dropped from 262,240 to 236,758, in the same period.
"I don't believe that if these workers were given the same rights and wages as Canadian workers, our employers would be as interested in bringing them in," said labour studies professor Charlotte Yates of McMaster University.
"It is a cheap labour policy," she added. "There is a danger that if we increase the number of migrant workers, we increase the number of vulnerable workers. It is going to affect Canada's overall labour market, pushing down wages."
Although Canada has just launched the Canadian Experience Class to allow foreign workers and international students on temporary permits to apply for permanent status from within Canada, those in low-paying and unskilled jobs - often the most vulnerable due to their lack of English and education - are still excluded.
With federal and provincial governments eager to respond to employers' needs, but slow to protect foreign workers, critics like Yates say unions have a key role to play.
But some, like John Mortimer, president of Labour Watch, a union watchdog, said migrant workers must take responsibility as well and do their own research before taking a job abroad. Labour organizing may not be a solution, he added.
"Some union leaders ... believe any worker is better off unionized than not. They are a business. It's more revenue," he said. "They accept that the temporary foreign worker programs are a reality, so they move to represent them, even though they may ... think they are taking jobs from Canadians."
Still, unions have made progress in organizing Canada's migrant workers in spite of legal limitations placed on unionization and high turnovers among certain fields.
This summer, the United Food and Commercial Workers signed a contract that included 70 migrant workers with Winnipeg's Mayfair Farms. In May, the Canadian Steelworkers Union and Migrante Ontario, a grassroots advocacy group, launched the Independent Workers Association (Home Worker Section) to offer live-in caregivers discounted legal counselling, insurance and dental plans.
Last year, the Alberta Federation of Labour set up an advocate's office to collect data and assist temporary foreign workers with complaints against employers.
"The unions are basically doing what the governments should be doing," said Stan Raper of the food and commercial workers' union, which last year forced a Red Deer, Alta., hog plant in a collective agreement to fund workplace training and a community integration program for 240 migrant workers from the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Philippines and Ukraine.
The contract also made the employer sponsor 190 of the workers as landed immigrants through the Alberta Provincial Nominee program. Today, more than 75 have received their immigrant papers.
The B.C. government and Service Employees' Union is working with counterparts in 14 other countries to prepare foreign-trained health-care workers on Canadian working conditions, labour rights and basic settlement needs through multilingual education materials abroad.
"With globalization and transnational migration, you can only raise awareness and improve labour conditions by building bridges with workers in other countries," said Lorene Oikawa, the B.C. union's vice-president.
Despite the effort, Chris Ramsaroop of Justice for Migrant Workers said many foreign workers are still too afraid or too busy working to join the movement.
"It is very difficult to organize them because they are so isolated," said the community worker.
"We have a more racialized migrant workforce than ever. Canada's unions must develop more creative ways to ... include them in the labour movement."
Toronto Star, Aug 27 2008Byline: Nicholas Keung
For immediate release
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
AFL decries further watering-down of checks and balances of Temporary Foreign Worker Program
Canadians should get first crack at high-paying jobs
EDMONTON - The Alberta Federation of Labour is deeply concerned about the Harper government’s further watering down of checks and balances of the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program.
“Canadians should get first crack at these jobs. But the Harper government is more interested in the bottom line of their friends in the non-union construction sector,” says Nancy Furlong, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alberta Federation of Labour, representing 150,000 Alberta workers.
Furlong made these comments in light of Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announcing his intent to expand an Alberta pilot project that allows employers to recruit foreign workers without attempting to fill the positions with Canadians first. Kenney is also allowing employers to hire TFWs without having to report anything about where they are working. There will also be fewer safeguards against abuses, despite the fact that the previous TFW rules, even with their weak safeguards, has been found to be ripe with worker rip-offs, poor working conditions, and unscrupulous recruiters charging TFWs illegal fees.
“Foreign workers are supposed to receive comparable wages and working conditions as Canadians, but there are no real mechanisms in place to ensure this happens. Once the foreign workers are in the province, they work at the whim of their employer,” says Furlong noting that a 2010 Government of Alberta report found that 74% of employers who hired workers under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program had violated the Employment Standards Act regarding pay rates and record keeping.
“Under this program, employers don’t have to show that they’ve made any attempts to fill these jobs with Canadians first. Kenney's latest move makes the Temporary Foreign Worker program an employer's first choice, not last resort.
"The result is employers can use these workers in ways that Canadians might not tolerate,” says Furlong. “Once a foreign worker is brought in under this program, they can be moved around willy-nilly at the behest of the employer or employers who brought them in.”
The AFL is repeating the call to expand permanent immigration in order to address shortages that may exist in Alberta in select trades. The Alberta Federation of Labour has long held the position that the TFW program should be scrapped in favour of an immigration policy that brings in new Canadians in order to build our economy in a sustainable way.
“This is not about a labour shortage, it's a low-wage strategy. This is mostly designed to give companies access to a big pool of non-union construction labour that is desperate for work.”
For more information:
· Nancy Furlong, Secretary Treasurer, Alberta Federation of Labour (780) 720-8945
TC:lmr*cope458 G:\Communications\NEWS\AFL\2012\2012-27 TFW
The Alberta Federation of Labour is creating a new Temporary Foreign Worker Advocate Office to help protect the basic human and workplace rights of vulnerable foreign workers in the province.
"We've already heard too many stories of exploitation, neglect and unfair treatment," says Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan. "We have to act and help protect people who come in good faith to work in this province."
The AFL is contracting with labour lawyer Yessy Byl to create the Advocate's Office to assist foreign workers when they encounter unfair treatment.
"We asked the provincial government to act on this. They have done too little so far and the number of problems has just ballooned," McGowan says. "We felt it our duty to act to help protect these working people."
McGowan says the lack of clear rules and aggressive policing has opened the door for unscrupulous employers and employment brokers to take advantage of workers coming to Alberta from other countries.
"The problems are as simple as getting employers to actually pay what they promised, right up to complex visa issues," McGowan says. "Many of these people don't speak English well, they don't know the country and they can't really defend themselves."
Byl, an award-winning Edmonton lawyer with more than 20 years experience helping union and non-union workers, has already been assisting a number of foreign temporary workers on her own time - mostly notably a group of Romanian welders and machinists.
"I've already seen disturbing examples of employers and brokers behaving badly - and governments looking the other way," Byl says. "Canada has a well-deserved good reputation around the world. But that reputation will be put at risk if we continue to allow workers coming here from other parts of the world to be treated in these ways."
In her role as Advocate, Byl will help temporary foreign workers file employment standards complaints and complaints about workplace health and safety. She will also help foreign workers understand their rights, deal with immigration issues, and navigate the provincial and federal bureaucracies.
McGowan says the AFL has enough money to keep the Advocate Office running as a pilot project for at least six months and possibly a year. After that, he says it will be time to reassess.
"This is work that government should be doing - but we'll do it in hopes that people like Iris Evans and Monte Solberg will eventually come around," says McGowan. "Our goals are twofold. First to help address the immediate needs of temporary foreign workers who are being treated unfairly and, second, to gather enough evidence to convince the federal and provincial governments to step in and reform the system."
McGowan reiterated the labour movement's position that the real solution to Alberta's tight labour market lies with better training for domestic workers; reform to the mainline immigration system and measures to better control the pace of oil sands development.
"By allowing the Temporary Foreign Worker program to grow exponentially without any of the necessary safeguards, our governments are essentially creating an underclass of workers who don't have the same rights and protections in the workplace as Canadian workers," he says.
"We feel strongly that if these people are good enough to build our oil sands projects, take care of our children or serve our coffee, then they're good enough to stay as citizens. That's the Canadian way. Stringing people along for years in precarious situations thousands of miles away from their families - that's not the Canadian way."
-30-For More Information contact:
Gil McGowan, President at 780.218-9888 (cell)
AFL Convention Continues through Weekend As part of its ongoing convention, the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) will be releasing the second report from its Temporary Foreign Worker Advocate.
Saturday, April 25th, Noon
Crowne Plaza Chateau Lacombe, 10111 Bellamy Hill, Edmonton
"Klondike A" Room (3rd Floor)
In December 2008, there were 57,000 temporary foreign workers in Alberta, a growing number of which are low-skilled workers. The new report provides an update on the living and working conditions of foreign workers, evaluates current government responses to the program's problems and examines the effect of the economic downturn.
The AFL's TFW Advocate, Yessy Byl, will be present to release the report. Some temporary foreign workers will also be available for media inquiries.
Other highlights of the Saturday agenda at the AFL Convention include:10:00 a.m.: Michelle Bissett, Australian Council of Trade Unions, on building union political power through elections 11:00 a.m.: Ken Georgetti, President, Canadian Labour Congress 1:30 p.m.: Brian Mason, Leader, Alberta NDP
For more information call:
Gil McGowan, AFL President (780) 483-3021 (office) (780) 218-9888 (cell)
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 2007Byline: Carol Christian
Unions in B.C. and Alberta are demanding changes be made to the temporary foreign worker (TFW) program to allow for permanent residency.
However, this pathway to citizenship has already been rejected by the federal government, despite a report recommending otherwise.
"We believe there should be something like the Canadian Experience Class that applies to the construction industry," said Wayne Peppard, executive director of the British Columbia and Yukon Territory Building and Construction Trades Council (BCYT-BCTC).
"If you are going to invite temporary foreign workers to come to work, they must be able to move into the industry they have experience in. They should be able to come and have an access portal to become fully landed."
The House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration recently released a report on the temporary foreign worker program, after traveling across the country to gather information The report focuses on specific issues including the transition from temporary to permanent resident and recommends that TFWs have the chance to gain residency.
"The committee believes that all temporary foreign workers in the current programs should have the opportunity to apply for permanent residency after meeting certain criteria, an opportunity not currently universally available to them," said the report.
"The committee recognizes that many workers and employers desire their employment arrangement to be permanent and we feel that permanent migration is in Canada's best interests."
The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) recently released a report of its own recommending that TFWs be allowed to stay. The report by the AFL's temporary foreign worker advocate said Alberta's Immigrant Nominee Program, the only avenue available to most foreign workers for permanent residence, is too restrictive and far too small to be effective.
"Only four per cent of foreign workers are accepted into the program, even though the bulk of foreign workers come with the expectation and hope of permanent settlement, which was deliberately fostered by brokers and the government," it said.
In contrast, the committee report was impressed with the way Saskatchewan and Manitoba use the TFW program to meet long-term labour market demand.
"Their strategic approach and collaboration between business, government, and community sectors is a good news story that might be of interest to other jurisdictions," it states. "
All measures should be taken to facilitate the transition from temporary worker to permanent resident through the provincial nominee avenue."
In response to the union demands, Conservative committee members submitted a minority report that rejects the recommendation.
"We oppose any move to alter the design of the temporary foreign worker to make it a permanent program in all but name," said Rick Dykstra, parliamentary secretary to the minister of citizenship and immigration. "That would undermine the integrity of the federal skilled worker program and, thus, our immigration system."
The committee also recommended that immediate family members be allowed to get an open work permit and a fee be collected from employers for emergency support of the unemployed.
However, Dykstra said the program shouldn't allow family members into the labour market without a separate Labour Market Opinion.
"In rural communities, an influx of individuals with open work permits would drastically distort the local labour market, displacing local youth and Canadian visible minorities from entry level employment positions, essentially pricing them out of the local labour market," he said.
Other committee recommendations include: discontinuing employer specific work permits; penalties against employers who abuse workers and fail to comply with contractual obligations; providing information about unscrupulous recruiters and report cases of abuse to law enforcement agencies; and monitoring of working and living conditions.
"The standing committee report is the first acknowledgement by federal politicians about the radical impact of the guest worker program on Canadian society and economy," said Peppard.
"Now it's up to the government and minister Kenney to stop the abuse and exploitation of temporary foreign workers."
Journal of Commerce, Mon Jun 1 2009Byline: Richard Gilbert
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
EDMONTON - In a decision released Wednesday, the Alberta Court of Appeal has decided that a Chinese corporation can face charges in Alberta court for the 2005 death of two temporary foreign workers in northern Alberta.
The decision upholds a previous ruling that Sinopec Shanghai Engineering Company Ltd. can be prosecuted. The two men worked for the company.
The company had argued that since it has no official presence in Alberta or Canada, and no Canadian employees, it could not be included in the jurisdiction of an Alberta courtroom.
On April 24, 2007, the internal supports of a large tank collapsed, killing Hongliang Liu from China's Shandong province and Genbao Ge, from the Henan province. The men were in Canada on temporary foreign-worker permits and worked at the Horizon Oil Sands project near Fort McKay.
In April 2009, the Alberta government laid 53 Occupational Health and Safety Act charges in connection with the incident. While most were laid against Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., 10 were laid against Sinopec Shanghai.
CNRL will be in court in the fall of 2012.
In the Alberta Court of Appeal decision, two judges upheld the ruling, while a third offered a dissenting opinion.
The Alberta Federation of Labour applauded the decision.
"If companies like Sinopec are going to invest in the oilsands, they need to respect our laws," said AFL president Gil McGowan.
Edmonton Journal, Wed Nov 23 2011