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Union Accuses Harper Government Of Misusing Temporary Foreign Worker

Documents show the Harper government allowed Alberta companies to pay thousands of foreign workers less than Canadians in 2013, the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) says.

CBC News Posted: Aug 15, 2014 11:36 AM MT Last Updated: Aug 15, 2014 7:55 PM MT

CALGARY – Documents show the Harper government allowed Alberta companies to pay thousands of foreign workers less than Canadians in 2013, the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) says, reported CBC News.

Details of the internal government documents, obtained through an Access to Information request, were shared by the group at a news conference Friday morning in Calgary.

Many of the foreign workers had jobs as nurse aides, front desk clerks, truck drivers, service station attendants and heavy equipment operators, among others.

The labour group says the goal of sanctioning the underpayment of thousands of workers helped drive down wages in many industries, especially in fast food services.

For example, Gil McGowan said in Alberta the average wage for the province increased by 31 per cent since 2006 — double the inflation rate, which ran at about 15 per cent over the period. He said the average wage only increased eight per cent for the fast-food sector in that time.

“Those wages for food service workers fell behind the rising cost of living, and that workers in that sector actually saw their wages fall in real terms at the very same time that employers were crying labour shortage,” he said.

McGowan says the documents also show 3,718 individual low-skill foreign worker positions were approved in Canada last year. Of those permits, 2,122 were issued to employers in Alberta.

“It’s pretty clear that the problems in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program extend far beyond the food services industry,” said McGowan.

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