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How to fix the labour shortage in Alberta

The Edmonton Sun reported Labour Minister Thomas Lukaszuk scolding the federal government for their manipulation of the temporary foreign workers (TFW) program as inhumane and economically unsound.

Lukaszuk demands that all temporary workers remain here to work. I disagree, and believe that this program is inhumane to our own citizens in this province. Lukaszuk targets the fast-food industry, but I conceive an all-encompassing evaluation is necessary.

There are currently close to 85,000 TFW in Alberta; this number indicates to us a situation out of control and rife with corruption. It is all rubbish when employers claim that our people do not want the jobs. Perhaps people find it difficult to work for a wage that cannot sustain a meagre livelihood.

Many argue that we should allow the market to determine the hiring practices, but I would debate that cheap foreign labour distorts the labour marketplace, and consequently our social system suffers. It is only once their job becomes outsourced to temporary foreigners that the TFW program becomes relevant to many. By then it may become useless to complain.

I am not suggesting that this TFW program is entirely to blame for our labour situation. I see it as a legal tool that a business uses to bolster their profits. Still, I believe we are all more or less responsible for the instability we have.

A profit-sharing plan at the workplace would provide a common focus to both employer and employee to expect and achieve the best results, as both gain a financial advantage through a successful enterprise. This solution may not be a quick fix for everyone, but for many firms it could allow them to give a little in exchange for a lot more. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

Jesse Mlynarski

Red Deer

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