Temporary Foreign Worker Advocate Releases 6-Month Report

    Concludes Program is "An Unqualified Disaster," Makes 21 Recommendations

                             Media Availability
                                 2:30 p.m.,
                    Salon A, Chateau Lacombe Crowne Plaza
                             (10111 Bellamy Hill)
       (Copies of the report are available this morning at www.afl.org)

    EDMONTON, Nov. 29 /CNW/ - The Alberta Federation of Labour today released
the 6-month report of the Temporary Foreign Worker Advocate project, launched
this past April. The report outlines the activities of the Advocate,
highlights the most common problems with the program, and offers 21 specific
recommendations to both provincial and federal governments to fix the program.
    The report is available at www.afl.org immediately. AFL President
Gil McGowan will accompany Yessy Byl, the TFW Advocate, at a media
availability at 2:30 this afternoon to discuss the report.
    "After six months of helping foreign workers, I can only conclude that
there are deep and troubling flaws in the foreign worker program," says
Yessy Byl, the Advocate. "The rapid expansion of the program in the past two
years has been an unqualified disaster."
    "When we launched the Advocate project, we knew there was exploitation
going on, but we didn't realize just how widespread it is," says McGowan.
"Alberta has created a disposable workforce."
    In six months, Byl took more than 1,400 phone calls and opened files for
123 temporary foreign workers (TFWs). She also offered presentations to
hundreds of Albertans to educate them about the program. "The demand has been
overwhelming. Clearly there are thousands of foreign workers needing help and
have nowhere to turn," observes Byl.
    A number of problems experienced by foreign workers have re-occurred
frequently, Byl reports. For example, 89 of the 123 cases reported problems
with a "labour broker" - being forced to pay illegal fees to brokers or
brokers making misleading promises to lure them to Canada. Some other of the
more common concerns are:

    -   Substandard wages and working conditions
    -   Jobs disappearing without notice
    -   Excessive rents charged by employers for substandard housing
    -   Lack of enforcement of basic employment protections
    -   Long wait times for work permits

    The report has one key recommendation - calling for the program to be
scaled back to its original intent and the immigration system reformed to
allow more permanent immigration of these workers. Realizing this is an
ambitious recommendation, the Advocate also makes 20 other recommendations
aimed at improving the living and working conditions for TFWs. These include:

    -   Remove employer names from work permits to allow TFWs to switch jobs;
    -   Allow TFWs to apply for permanent immigration status without
    -   Active enforcement by the province to ensure employment standards are
        being met;
    -   Stronger provisions prohibiting broker fees to TFWs with stiff
        penalties for contravention;
    -   Limits on rents and minimum housing standards;
    -   Create an arm's-length provincial TFW Advocate funded by the
        government to assist TFWs free-of-charge with complaints and

    "The evidence is now conclusive - the TFW program is a mess and thousands
of foreign workers are paying the price for it. The federal and provincial
governments must act now. There is no more excuse for waiting," concludes

For further information:

For further information: Gil McGowan, AFL President, @ (780) 483-3021
(office), (780) 218-9888 (cell); Yessy Byl, TFW Advocate, @ (780) 720-8481

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Alberta Federation of Labour

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