PBO debunks worker shortage myth

Exposes bogus rationale for TFW program

Edmonton – There is no significant shortage of workers or skills in Canada, according to a new report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO).

In a report released on Tuesday, March 25, the independent officer of parliament showed that employment rates and job vacancy rates were still lower than they had been before the recession of 2008-09. “There is little evidence to suggest a national labour shortage exists in Canada,” the report concludes.

“Lies and exaggerations about the existence of a labour shortage have been used to justify the massive expansion of the Temporary Foreign Worker program (TFWP),” Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. “Public policy should be based on facts. If you ignore the facts, you get bad policy that hurts the public interest. That’s what we have with the Harper Government’s Temporary Foreign Worker program.”

The PBO’s report is just the latest report to debunk the notion of a shortage of workers or skills in Canada. Over the past year, former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney, the Institute for Research on Public Policy, the University of Calgary School of Public Policy, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, the University of Alberta Economics Department and Fraser Institute Fellow Herb Emery have all released reports that debunk the labour shortage myth.

“Every year, Canadian employers bring in hundreds of thousands of Temporary Foreign Workers to fill a nonexistent labour shortage,” McGowan said. “And when these marginalized workers get here, they’re paid less than they should be, their rights are ignored, they have little hope of attaining citizenship – and Canadians are put out of work.”

The current Public Budget Officer, Jean-Denis Fréchette, was appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in September 2013 to replace Kevin Paige. The mandate of the PBO is to provide independent analysis to Parliament on the state of the nation’s finances, the government’s estimates and trends in the Canadian economy.

“This is the PM’s own guy offering a report that repudiates the justification for this government’s policies,” McGowan said. “Academics, right-wing analysts, progressive economists, government bureaucrats, statisticians – the entire fact-based community agrees that the justification for the Temporary Foreign Worker program is bunk. Even the PM himself has expressed concerns about the program. So why does it still exist?”



Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.289.6528 (cell)
or via e-mail