Temporary foreign workers hired at minimum wage; Harper Gov’t Approved Breaking Rule

Thousands of temporary foreign workers hired at minimum wage shows program is ‘off the rails’: AFL

Sheila Pratt
Edmonton Journal: May 27, 2014

EDMONTON – Thousands of employers across the country are paying temporary foreign workers below the required wage level — with federal approval, according to new research by the Alberta Federation of Labour.

The “shocking result” is more evidence that the program works to keep wages low in a strong economy — despite claims to the contrary from federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney, federation president Gil McGowan said Monday.

“This is the latest example of how badly this program has gone off the rails,” he said. “The federal government should not be in the business of keeping wages low, but that’s exactly what’s happening.”

In the last 18 months, 15,006 employers across the country received approval to bring in temporary foreign workers at minimum wage, according to documents obtained from the federal government, McGowan said.

The federation then checked each approved contract (called a labour market opinion) against the hourly wage required under federal rules in each geographic region, called the prevailing market wage (the average that Canadians are paid in those job categories).

More than 14,500 contracts — 97 per cent — were approved with wages below the prevailing market wage, violating the rules of the temporary foreign workers program, says the federation.

“The evidence from Statistics Canada and the government itself show that the so-called prevailing market wage in every occupation and every region of the country is actually higher than the minimum wage (for that province),” McGowan said. “So none of these applications should have been approved.

“The Harper government has allowed them to contravene the rules and is standing up for its friends in business.”

(read the full article at Edmonton Journal)

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