Please allow me to correct statements in the article TFW cap impacts labour shortage: Kobly (Advocate, Oct. 16) asserting that the government of Canada is overstating the number of temporary foreign workers in Alberta and understating the wage increases in this province’s food service industry.
In 2013, Alberta was the province with the most entries of low-wage temporary foreign workers, yet there are currently 110,000 Albertans looking for work and Alberta’s population is growing by over 100,000 individuals per year. With this evidence, it is clear there are too many people capable of working who are not in the labour force.
In addition, if there is a shortage of labour, this should be reflected in higher wages. However, wages in the Alberta food services sector have gone up by only one per cent per year over the past eight years, versus an increase of two per cent for inflation and four per cent for all jobs in Alberta — demonstrating that this sector has become dependent on temporary foreign workers.
Putting all of this in context, once fully implemented, the changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) will prevent the admission of approximately 8,000 low-wage temporary foreign workers into Alberta — representing approximately 0.3 per cent of its labour force.
In addition, the $1,000 fee is a cost-recovery fee that ensures it is employers who are applying for temporary foreign workers that pay the costs of processing applications and completing investigations, not Canadian taxpayers. It also ensures that employers are following the rules of the program.
The TFWP was reformed to restore the program to its original purpose — as a last and limited resource for employers when there are no qualified Canadians to fill available jobs. This program should not be used as a business model by employers. The message to employers is clear and unequivocal — Canadians must always be first in line for available jobs.
Assistant Deputy Minister, Service Canada