Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Labour Groups Say Foreign Worker Changes Attack Canadian Wages: Labour Groups Decry Foreign Worker Changes

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Labour Groups Say Foreign Worker Changes Attack Canadian Wages: Labour Groups Decry Foreign Worker Changes

Article excerpt

EDMONTON - Labour groups are stepping up their attack on changes to regulations for temporary foreign workers, saying the adjustments will reduce wages for Canadians, make it tougher for union shops to bid for work and allow companies to cut training of local employees.

"Harper is giving a go-ahead to employers to tap into vulnerable foreign workers to drive down Canadian wages," said Jim Stanford, head economist for the Canadian Auto Workers.

A federal spokeswoman said the measures, which allow workers to be paid less than the going Canadian wage, would not disadvantage workers in hot labour markets.

"Regional differences will be taken into account," said Alyson Queen of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.

On Wednesday, the federal government said it would speed up approval times for companies to get skilled workers into Canada if local labour can't be found. It also promised better protections for such workers once they're in the country.

But it also said employers would be allowed to pay foreign workers up to 15 per cent less than the prevailing local wage.

Because foreign workers in union shops must be paid the negotiated wage, Gil McGowan of the Alberta Federation of Labour said the provision gives non-union contractors the ability to undercut union contractors.

"What happened yesterday is really about giving non-union construction contractors the upper hand in bidding for work in the oilsands sector," he said.

About half the construction work in Alberta already goes to non-union shops, McGowan said.

He also suggested that increasing the flow of skilled workers from other countries will reduce the need for employers to spend money on training and apprenticeships for Canadians.

Ron Genereux, vice-president of construction for Suncor Energy, said the wage provisions would only potentially apply to a very small number of workers. He said more than 90 per cent of oilsands construction already goes to unionized employees.

The reforms are necessary, he added. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.