Let workers stay: Lukaszuk

Thomas Lukaszuk’s biggest complaint about Canada’s temporary foreign worker program is that it is temporary.

Thomas Lukaszuk’s biggest complaint about Canada’s temporary foreign worker program is that it is temporary.

Alberta’s minister of jobs, skills, training and labour said it makes no sense to cycle workers in and out of the country, because they never become vested in the communities they live in, much of their income goes to their home countries instead of supporting the local economy, and Canadian employers must train new staff repeatedly.

“Over the last 10 to 15 years, we’ve been rotating about 80,000 workers every four years,” said Lukaszuk, who was in Red Deer to attend CAREERexpo at Red Deer College.

“We would be much better served to identify the workers that we need, let them stay here, and allow them to become permanent residents and become Canadians and members of our communities.”

Lukaszuk said he raised the issue with his ministerial counterparts from the other provinces during a teleconference on Wednesday, and they agreed to make it a priority item when they meet with federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney in September.

The temporary foreign worker program has become a hot topic in recent weeks after it was alleged that some fast-food restaurants have given temporary foreign workers preferred treatment to Canadian employees.

Last Thursday, Kenney announced a moratorium on the food services industry’s access to temporary foreign workers under the program.

Lukaszuk responded at the time by agreeing that the rules of the program must be followed and violators dealt with harshly.

But he added that it’s unfair to penalize an entire sector for the inappropriate actions of a few.

He reiterated this viewpoint on Thursday.

“I sent him (Kenney) a letter, and my department is in continuous communication with the federal department trying to find out actually what the decision encompasses.

“What I strongly feel is that this program was simply poorly designed to begin with. It never had any accountability measures vis-a-vis employers, it never had any enforcement measures and it definitely didn’t have any punitive measures to deal severely with those who choose to abuse the program.”

Lukaszuk said most food services businesses want to do the right thing when it comes to hiring Canadians first, and it’s also in their financial best interest to utilize local labour before bringing in temporary workers from other countries.

But by depriving them of this source of employees, the federal government runs the risk of hurting small businesses and the broader economy.

“Killing that industry sector would now only impact other industries negatively and it would affect our, Canadian’s, quality of life.”

Asked if he’s thinking about joining the race for the leadership of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party, Lukaszuk was non-committal.

“I’m thinking about it every day,” he said.

“I have a job to do and I will continue doing my job until the house recesses, and then I’ll make a decision.”

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Alberta hiring more paramedics and buying new ambulances, none for Red Deer

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer is not concerned the provincial government didn’t… Continue reading

‘My nightmare began again’: Close call as bus carrying Humboldt crash survivor rear-ended

CALGARY — A terrifying ordeal for Humboldt Broncos survivor Ryan Straschnitzki this… Continue reading

Halifax airport operations normalize after Boeing 747 runway overshoot

HALIFAX — The Halifax Stanfield International Airport has resumed normal operations a… Continue reading

Bentley family left without a home grateful for community support

Central Albertans are coming together to support a Bentley family left homeless… Continue reading

Red Deer RCMP ready for new mandatory alcohol screening law

Red Deer RCMP are ready to enforce a new law intended to… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer and District Kennel Club Dog Show at Westerner Park

The Red Deer and District Kennel Club is holding a dog show… Continue reading

Brothers, 20, face second-degree murder charge in death of teen: police

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Police west of Toronto say two brothers have been… Continue reading

A young mayor, his friend, and a fatal attraction to opioids

MOUNT CARBON, Pa. — Janel Firestone found her son — the 24-year-old,… Continue reading

GM fights to retain key tax credit amid plant closing plans

WASHINGTON — General Motors is fighting to retain a valuable tax credit… Continue reading

TTC union asks provincial government to step in on transition to Presto

TORONTO — The union representing transit workers in Canada’s most populous city… Continue reading

Small pot growers find roadblocks on path to microcultivation licences

Yan Boissonneault’s daughter was turning blue. Without warning, his baby had stopped… Continue reading

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $60 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — There was no winning ticket for the $60 million jackpot… Continue reading

In Hollywood of Mississippi, voter fraud like a movie script

CANTON, Miss. — In a town that calls itself the Hollywood of… Continue reading

Trump picks Army chief of staff as next top military adviser

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump announced Saturday that he’s picked a battle-hardened… Continue reading

Most Read