Construction Workforce Strategy Goes Astray - Government Off-base on Temporary Foreign Workers

    EDMONTON, Nov. 1 /CNW/ - The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) responded
today to the release of the government's Workforce Strategy for Alberta's
Construction Industry. The AFL is concerned that the government is placing far
too much reliance on expanded use of temporary foreign workers to resolve
labour shortages in construction and other sectors of the economy.
    "Minister Evans seems to be embracing an expanded use of temporary
foreign workers as a mainstay of the workforce strategy for the construction
industry," says AFL President Gil McGowan. "This is a policy that the AFL
clearly opposed in the development of the strategy - to the point where our
opposition was clearly indicated on page 13 of the government document
    "First off, this process was supposed to about 'building and educating
tomorrow's workforce,' " points out McGowan. "Simply bringing in temporary
foreign workers whenever there is a skill shortfall doesn't constitute any
building or educating of workers or the workforce at all. It is a quick fix
that lets government and employers off the hook for the failure of our
workforce development policies."
    McGowan points out that in September the unemployment rate for aboriginal
Albertans living off the reserve was 7.3%.and that Alberta has the
second-lowest participation rate among provinces for women with children under
the age of six years.
    "We have pools of untapped labour here in the province - the problem is
that there is no will by employers or government to spend the time and money
required to develop those pools," says McGowan.
    McGowan insists that there are many creative programs the government
could pursue to actually create an effective workforce development plan in the
construction sector and other sectors of the economy. "However, as long as we
are willing, as a province, to countenance the continued use and abuse of
temporary foreign workers in all sectors as a constant strategy, there will be
little reason for government or employers to change their tune," concludes

For further information:

For further information: Gil McGowan, AFL President @ (780) 218-9888

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Alberta Federation of Labour

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