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The Roles of Government, Employers, and Unions in Low and Semi-Skilled Temporary Foreign Worker Programmes: The Case of Alberta, Canada Katie Kuschminder.

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Presentation on theme: "The Roles of Government, Employers, and Unions in Low and Semi-Skilled Temporary Foreign Worker Programmes: The Case of Alberta, Canada Katie Kuschminder."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Roles of Government, Employers, and Unions in Low and Semi-Skilled Temporary Foreign Worker Programmes: The Case of Alberta, Canada Katie Kuschminder PhD Candidate, Maastricht Graduate School of Governance

2 1.Introduction to Low-Skilled Temporary Foreign Worker Programmes 2.Problems of TFW Programmes 3.International Best Practices: GCIM 4.Case of Alberta, Canada 5.Legal Responsibilities of Government, Employers and Unions 6.Recent Programme Developments 7.Overview of the Current Situation 8.GCIM and Alberta Presentation Overview

3 Defining Characteristics of Low Skilled Temporary Foreign Worker Programmes Based on Rationale of a perceived Labour Shortage Recruited to fill jobs nationals are unwilling to do: 3-D’s – Dirty, Dangerous, and Difficult Rotation Principle 1990’s defined by micro-programmes that each aim to fill specific job vacancies in a particular sector (Martin, 2003) Generally prohibit settlement and Family Reunification

4 Common Problems of TFWP 1.Tethering of Migrant Workers Tether to a particular job and/or employer 2.Dependency 1.Families of Migrant Workers 2.Receiving Society dependent on low wage 3.Commodification of Migrant Workers “We asked for workers and we got people”

5 Global Commission for International Migration Best Practices for Migrant Workers “fully inform migrants of their rights and obligations, allow them to change jobs in receiving countries, have governments enforcing laws that regulate contractors, employers and others involved in moving workers over borders and employing them.”

6 Population 3.6 million Roughly the size of France or Texas Population concentrated in Calgary and Edmonton Case: Alberta, Canada

7 Low Skilled Pilot Project: Programme Overview Includes jobs that require low levels of formal training (NOC classifications C and D) Employer tied permit for one location and one job title Work permits for up to 24 months Allows for re-entry after 12 months return to country of origin Workers can be nominated by their employer for Alberta Immigrant Nominee Programme to become permanent residents

8 Numbers: Flows Number of Temporary Foreign Worker Entries to Canada by Province,

9 Numbers: Absolute

10 Numbers: Skill Level Level 0 - Managerial7,36,96,45,95,0 Level A - Professional29,327,426,022,215,3 Level B - Skilled and technical 13,113,214,918,419,6 Level C - Intermediate and clerical 24,824,5 23,223,8 Level D - Elemental and laborers 1,61,32,66,817,0 Level Not Stated22,625,624,622,318,7 Temporary Foreign Worker Occupational Classification Alberta, by percentage

11 Numbers: Source Countries Temporary Residents Present in Alberta by Source Country,

12 Numbers: Permanent versus Temporary Migration The number of temporary and permanent residents in Alberta,

13 Legal Responsibilities: Government Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) – issue Labour Market Opinion Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) – issue work permits Border Security – make final decision upon entry Alberta Advanced Education and Technology (AAET) – assess foreign credentials Alberta Employment, Immigration, and Industry – assess applications for Alberta Immigrant Nominee Programme Civil Rights- Employment Rights, Health Care, Education, Housing PROVINCIAL FEDERAL

14 Legal Responsibilities: Employers Application for Labour Market Opinion Provide contract to TFW demonstrating wage parity Covering round trip transportation costs Provide health care until employee receives Alberta Health Care Confirming the availability of affordable and suitable accommodation Registering workers with the appropriate provincial Workplace Safety Board Ensure employee has appropriate training and safety equipment to perform the job

15 Legal Responsibilities : Unions Union membership in Canada is voluntary No formalized role in the process TFWs became key campaign issue for Alberta Federation of Labour March Hired a Temporary Foreign Worker Advocate November 2007 AFL Publish Alberta’s Disposable Workforce Key Issus: Wages, Working Conditions, Brokers, Housing, Lack of Rights Enforcement, Bureaucracy

16 Legal Responsibilities: Passing the Buck Government of Canada - “The Government of Canada is not a party to the contract. Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC)/ Service Canada (SC) has no authority to intervene in the employer- employee relationship or to enforce the terms and conditions of employment. It is the responsibility of the employer and the worker to familiarize themselves with laws that apply to them and to look after their own interests.” Government of Alberta – Complaint Driven System, lacks formal enforcement. Statement of AEII spokesperson: “government doesn't monitor temporary foreign workers "because the bureaucracy on that one would be crazy.”” (Harding and Walton) Employers – Responsible for treatment of migration workers. Unions – Key watchdog to support and promote migrant workers rights

17 Resulting Key Issues Embedded migrant vulnerability and lack of protection for migrant rights Lack of Enforcement Brokers Housing Wages Employment Conditions Complaint Driven Process Shifting Immigration System

18 Global Commission for International Migration Best Practices for Migrant Workers  “fully inform migrants of their rights and obligations,  allow them to change jobs in receiving countries,  have governments enforcing laws that regulate contractors, employers and others involved in moving workers over borders and employing them.”

19 Programme Developments: Provincial Nov TFW Advisory offices in Edmonton and Calgary with TFW Hotline February Employment Standards Enforcement Services (8 member audit team) June Settlement Services Pilot in 5 cities October Alberta and Philippines sing MOU to improve entry for Filipino workers February Changes to the Alberta Immigrant Nominees Programme April Publish Employer Guide and Employee Guide April Published further documents including: Developing your own settlement and integration plan, Employment Standards Guide, and Employers First Day Checklist

20 Programme Developments: Federal October Government of Canada opened TFW processing office in Calgary December Work Permits extended to 2 years July Government of Alberta and Government of Canada signed MOU to work on improving TFW program July Regional Occupations Under Pressure November Fast Track for TFW seeking to switch employers

21 Programme Developments: Employers Fiscal Year as of January % of businesses employing TFWs inspected in Alberta were in violation of the provincial labour code 29.4% related to overtime pay 23.6% related to GHP (general holiday pay, i.e. statutory holiday pay) 15.6% related to record-keeping 8.2% related to vacation pay 56% of businesses inspected were accommodation and food services

22 Programme Developments: Unions AFL- April transferred casework to Edmonton Community Legal Clinic Advocate focuses on research, advocacy, and public education November Entrenching Exploitation UFCW Instituted rights for TFWs into collective labour agreement including application for permanent residency In over 460 applications had been made and 417 were successful (90%)

23 Global Commission for International Migration Best Practices for Migrant Workers  “fully inform migrants of their rights and obligations,  allow them to change jobs in receiving countries,  have governments enforcing laws that regulate contractors, employers and others involved in moving workers over borders and employing them.”

24 GCIM and Legal Responsibilities for Low-Skilled Temporary Foreign Workers in Alberta Government of Canada needs to take responsibility for the programme it implements Roles need to be clarified Formalized institutions to protect migrant rights Provincial Governments need to be supported in enforcement Enforcement should be mandated for brokers, workplace conditions, and protection of migrants rights

25 Thank you for your attention! Katie Kuschminder


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