AFL audit shows thousands of foreign workers brought in at minimum wage

Data diminishes claims of labour shortages
||Last Updated: 05/26/2014

An audit conducted by the Alberta Federation of Labour has revealed thousands of employers were given the green light by the federal government to hire temporary foreign workers at minimum wage.

Released on May 26, the AFL’s audit compared numbers compiled from Statistics Canada against applications for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. The labour federation looked specifically at prevailing regional wages and weighted those rates against the approved wage rates from the approved applications of employers seeking to bring in foreign workers.

According to the AFL, the audit showed employers were routinely allowed to pay foreign workers minimum wage in industries and occupations that are supposed to pay higher rates.

“One of the major fixes the Conservatives are suggesting to prevent the Temporary Foreign Worker Program from putting Canadians out of work is a wage floor for Temporary Foreign Workers,” said Gil McGowan, president of the labour federation. “The documents show that the Harper government has regularly allowed employers to pay below-market wages, in contravention of the existing rules and all their empty promises. Why should Canadians believe them now?”

Of the 15,006 employers who were approved to bring in foreign workers, more than 14,500 offered wages that were lower than what the government mandates should be paid, according to the audit. The wages were below the prevailing wage rate, ranging from a few cents to $11.45 an hour lower than the expected number.

The data turns on its head recent claims by the federal government that there exists serious labour shortages and a lack of skilled Canadians to fill such positions.

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