List of ‘accelerated’ TFW approvals reveals widespread abuse of program

Alberta Federation of Labour calls for inquiry in light of growing evidence of fraud

Edmonton, April 9 – 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, obtained by the Alberta Federation of Labour through an Access to Information request, lists all approved TFW applications in the first eight months of the new Accelerated Labour Market Opinion (ALMO) process.

Between April 25 and December 18, 2012, more than 2,400 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 applications have been rubberstamped in as little as ten days, and the vast majority aren’t subjected to any kind of review.”

The Alberta Federation of Labour, the province’s largest labour organization, is calling on the Auditor General of Canada to conduct a full audit of the ALMO approval process.

“In the meantime, this program should be stopped immediately and the federal government should investigate each and every one of these employers to see if there’s wrongdoing,” McGowan said, noting that the labour movement is in favour of immigration. “Workers who want to come to Canada should enjoy the same rights and privileges as other Canadian residents. We shouldn’t be paying them 15 per cent less than Canadians, and the government shouldn’t be whisking them in through an accelerated and duplicitous process.”

More than 54 per cent (2,640) of the ALMO approvals in the country were for Alberta-based employers. Of these, AFL researchers flagged more than 58 per cent (1,542) as questionable. The list of businesses in Alberta who received ALMO approvals included 33 A&W restaurants. The ALMO stream, introduced in last year’s omnibus budget bill, is proving to be the latest evidence that the temporary foreign worker program is part of a low-wage agenda on the part of radical Tea-Party Tories.

“Alberta is leading the way in misusing this approval process,” McGowan said. “This isn’t being used as a stop-gap, and it isn’t a last resort for employers.”

AFL Backgrounder: ‘Accelerated’ TFW approvals reveals widespread abuse of program



Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780-218-9888 (cell)
Olav Rokne, AFL Communications Director at 780-289-6528 (cell) or via email