Canadian workers sidelined as arena construction done by TFWs

Edmonton – Some of the work on Edmonton’s new downtown arena is being done by Temporary Foreign Workers from the U.S. despite the fact that hundreds of qualified local ironworkers are available.

Rogers’ Place – set to become the new home of the Edmonton Oilers in 2016 – began construction in March of 2014. The 20,000-seat venue will cost $480 million, and will involve hundreds of thousands of man hours to build.

“The federal government has repeatedly assured Canadians that permits for Temporary Foreign Workers would not be granted if there are any qualified Canadians available to do the job,” Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. “And yet these applications for foreign ironworkers were approved for a project that’s within walking distance of 300 ironworkers on the jobs list at the Ironworkers 720 hiring hall.”

Contracts to build several portions of Edmonton’s Arena District were awarded to local firms that employ Canadian workers. Unfortunately, the crown jewel of the district, Rogers’ Place, was given to a firm that applied to the federal government to bring in workers from outside of Canada.

Based on the fact that there are more than enough workers ready and willing to tackle the project, trades organizations are petitioning the government to rescind any Temporary Foreign Worker Permits that had been granted for the project.

“This project was sold to Edmonton on a promise of jobs and economic benefits. But Canadian workers are being left on the sidelines, so the full benefits of this project aren’t being felt by the community,” McGowan said. “The arena is being paid for by tax dollars – and most citizens would rather see their tax dollars going to their neighbours than being sent out of the province and out of the country.”

“There were more than enough Albertan tradespeople eager to work on this project back when it started in the middle of last year while oil prices were sky high and the oil sands were going full throttle,” McGowan said. “Now that oil sands construction is slowing down, it’s even more offensive that Albertans aren’t benefitting from home-ice advantage.”



Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.218.4351 (cell)
or via e-mail