Today Thomas Lukaszuk, Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour, issued the following statement:
“We agree with the Government of Canada on a number of important points. Canadians must have first access to jobs in this country. The federal Temporary Foreign Worker program has rules, and it is important that they be followed. There have been some recent incidents in the food services sector, and those situations need to be dealt with.
“However, we have concerns about the moratorium the federal government has imposed.
“Alberta’s economy is strong, and our labour market is unique. Unemployment is below five per cent. There are employers who cannot find people, there are people who cannot find jobs, and Alberta has programs for both. Job fairs and websites help job seekers find work. Food services companies and workers participate in these, yet positions remain open.
“It’s the reality of Alberta’s labour market: when jobs remain unfilled, workers are recruited from other sectors, customer service declines, or Canadians already on staff lose shifts or jobs when restaurants close or reduce their hours. Albertans want restaurant services, and companies need temporary foreign workers to provide them.
“There are ways for the federal government to deal with compliance problems in its program. Alberta has services to ensure provincial workplace laws are followed, and we act on complaints received. We have information about workplace rights available for all Alberta workers, and two TFW offices providing information and referrals in 170 languages. In matters under provincial jurisdiction, compliance is focused on the specific employer responsible, not the entire industry. If the federal government is concerned about compliance, we would be happy to help with enforcement of federal requirements.
“Alberta feels it is unfair to freeze an entire sector because there are problems with a few players. We encourage the federal government to clarify the timelines of its review, so that Albertans can continue to get the food services they need.”