Election forum puts Temporary Foreign Worker program in the spotlight

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AFL to help inform voters about differences between candidates stance on controversial guest-worker program

FORT MCURRAY–Fort McMurray-Athabasca voters will examine the Temporary Foreign Worker program at a forum on Monday, June 16.

At an event organized by the Alberta Federation of Labour, residents of Fort McMurray-Athabasca are invited to share their experiences with how the Temporary Foreign Worker Program has affected the economy and the job market in the region. AFL president Gil McGowan will discuss the TFWP as an election issue. All candidates in the upcoming by-election have been invited to attend and are encouraged to come share their thoughts on the controversial program and Fort McMurray-Athabasca's labour challenges.

"The oil sands are ground zero for the use and abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker program," Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. "It's here that workers, their families, and the community are seeing the biggest impact. It's workers here who have been let go to make room for lower-paid guest workers, and it's here that safety standards are being undermined. So voters here should know what the people who want to represent them in Ottawa plan to do about this program."

The event will be held at the Fort McMurray Legion (9317 Huggard Street) at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, June 16. The event will be an opportunity for voters to learn more about the problems with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and to ask questions about what can be done.

"The resignation of the sitting MP has given voters here a unique opportunity to send a message to Ottawa that this program needs to be shut down," McGowan said. "By holding this forum, we're trying to educate voters about what can be done on this issue. This by-election can be a referendum on the Temporary Foreign Worker program."

Over the past decade, the Temporary Foreign Worker program has ballooned, going from fewer than 200,000 when the Conservatives took power in 2006, to more than 350,000 today. Most of the growth of the program has been in the oil sector and in low-wage jobs. Alberta has the highest per-capita use of the Temporary Foreign Worker program, with more than 85,000 working in the province.

“Fort McMurray is the beating heart of Alberta’s economy, so what happens here affects the entire province — and the entire country,” McGowan said. “If the workers here send a clear message that this program is not in the best interests of Fort McMurray-Athabasca, then the power brokers in Ottawa will have to admit the program is not in the best interests of Canada.”

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MEDIA CONTACT:

Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.218.4351 (cell)
or via e-mail
orokne@afl.org

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