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 has made a more detailed framework for those looking to acquire an exemption to the mandatory indoor mask bylaw. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
Alberta changes requirements for mask exemptions

Masks wearing has been recommended for almost a year and provincially mandated… Continue reading

Alberta’a chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday that there are more than 328,000 vaccine appointments booked over the next seven days. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta surpasses 2 million doses administered of COVID-19 vaccine

Red Deer down to 835 active cases of COVID-19

RCMP file photo (Photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff)
RCMP investigating shooting near Maskwacis

Maskwacis and Wetaskiwin RCMP are seeking public assistance after a shooting has… Continue reading

Rode
Smith among impressive group of RDC soccer Queens recruits

There have been a number of cases where younger girls have developed… Continue reading

Bo’s Bar and Grill owner Brennen Wowk said the hospitality industry is looking for more clarity from the province around what conditions must be met to allow for restaurants reopening. (Advocate file photo)
Frustated restaurant owners want to know government’s reopening plan

Restaurant owners feel they are in lockdown limbo

Opinion
Mental health: Gossiping, backbiting and forming factions is unhealthy

We all know of dysfunctional organizations, which can be as troublesome as… Continue reading

Family practice physician Christina Tuomi, D.O., (right) gets Homer's first dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine from Emergency Department nurse Steve Hughes (left) on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020 at South Peninsula Hospital in Homer, Alaska. Tuomi has been the hospital's medical lead throughout the pandemic. (Photo courtesy Derotha Ferraro/South Peninsula Hospital)
Alberta physicians: Vaccines are our path forward

As the AMA representatives for Alberta’s family physicians, we were immensely relieved… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks' Nils Hoglander, right, is checked by Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom during third-period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Thursday, May 13, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Lindholm, Tkachuk lead Calgary Flames in 4-1 win over Vancouver Canucks

Lindholm, Tkachuk lead Calgary Flames in 4-1 win over Vancouver Canucks

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, right, drives to the basket against Toronto Raptors center Khem Birch, left, and guard Jalen Harris during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

NFL schedules get off to strong starts with Week 1 twinbills

NFL schedules get off to strong starts with Week 1 twinbills

The Saddledome, home of the Calgary Flames, is shown in Calgary, Thursday, March 12, 2020. The final three games of Canada's Secret Cup women's hockey tournament will be played in Calgary's NHL arena.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Secret Cup women’s tournament final games to be held in Calgary’s Saddledome

Secret Cup women’s tournament final games to be held in Calgary’s Saddledome

FILE - In this Thursday, July 18, 2019 file photo, Ron Francis talks to reporters in Seattle after he was introduced as the first general manager for Seattle's yet-to-be-named NHL hockey expansion team. Four years since George McPhee was a “puppet master” of the NHL leading up to the Vegas expansion draft, general managers approached this trade deadline with Seattle’s upcoming addition to the league in mind. While Kraken GM Ron Francis prepares – and maybe made a handshake deal or two already like McPhee did – Seattle was on his colleagues’ minds.(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Kraken still plan to hire coach before expansion draft

Kraken still plan to hire coach before expansion draft

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney attends a news conference in Calgary on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. Simmering internal discontent in his United Conservative caucus has boiled over into an open challenge to his leadership. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Two Alberta UCP members kicked out of caucus after challenging Kenney’s leadership

Two Alberta UCP members kicked out of caucus after challenging Kenney’s leadership

Most Read