Federal measure will cast Alberta workers into permanent underclass

    Proposed fast-tracking of elite temporary foreign workers is wrong

    EDMONTON, Aug. 13 /CNW/ - The Alberta Federation of Labour today strongly
criticized the federal government's proposed new measures to fast-track
citizenship for only certain classes of temporary foreign workers in Canada.
    "By restricting this benefit to only professional, technical and skilled
occupations, the government is setting up a permanent underclass of unskilled
temporary foreign workers who will be deprived of the rights to citizenship
being extended only to elite workers," says Alberta Federation of Labour
President Gil McGowan.
    "The great majority of temporary foreign workers in Alberta do not fall
into the privileged O, A and B designated occupations," says McGowan. "In
2007, only 14,842 Alberta temporary foreign workers would have been included -
a bare 39.8 per cent of all temporary foreign workers in the province. That
means 22,415 other, lesser skilled temporary foreign workers in Alberta would
be excluded from this proposed citizenship fast-track."
    McGowan notes that the fastest growing occupational category for
temporary foreign workers in Alberta has been the excluded "skill level D"
which is made up of unskilled service sector workers and labourers. "The newly
released 2007 figures show that this category now accounts 6,338 workers,"
says McGowan. He also notes that total workers in this category has grown by
3463 per cent since 2003 - exponentially more than any other skill category.
    "The government is saying that these people are good enough to come in
and do the low paying and often tremendously physically gruelling jobs no one
else is willing to do, but they will never be good enough to be citizens,"
says McGowan. "They will be a permanent underclass of exploited workers
endlessly cycled back to their home countries when we're done with them."
    McGowan was also critical of the effect this fast-tracking would have on
the mainstream immigration system. "The government is basically allowing
employers to decide who will be at the front of the cue for immigration," says
McGowan. "If elite temporary foreign workers are given an inside track for
immigration, then it is individual employers, not the government, who will be
setting immigration priorities. That will create an unbalanced and unfair
immigration process."

For further information:

For further information: Gil McGowan, AFL President @ (780) 483-3021
(office) or (780) 218-9888 (cell); Nancy Furlong, Secretary Treasurer @ (780)
483-3021 (office) or (780) 720-8945 (cell); Jason Foster, Director, Policy
Analysis @ (780) 483-3021

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Alberta Federation of Labour

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