Union group says foreign workers system broken

FORT MCMURRAY — The federal government says dozens of workers laid off in Alberta’s oilpatch have jobs again, but a labour group says that’s not the case and it points to a broken temporary foreign worker system. Earlier this week, the gover

FORT MCMURRAY — The federal government says dozens of workers laid off in Alberta’s oilpatch have jobs again, but a labour group says that’s not the case and it points to a broken temporary foreign worker system.

Earlier this week, the government announced it was investigating whether the 65 workers at Imperial Oil’s (TSX:IMO) Kearl project had been replaced with workers from Croatia at half the pay.

An official with the Employment and Social Development Department said Friday all of the laid-off workers have received job offers on “other projects in the area.”

However, Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said not all have received offers.

The company at the centre of the controversy, Pacer Promec Joint Venture, also issued a news release saying it would rehire Canadians to positions that had been filled by temporary foreign workers.

The statement was vague and didn’t say if the company would rehire the people they laid off or what would happen with the Croatian employees.

McGowan said the company had not contacted the Edmonton Iron Workers Union about rehiring the laid-off Canadians.

The company’s managing partner, Paolo Cattelan, said in the release that a subcontractor brought in the foreign workers, and thought it had followed the rules of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

“I regret that our actions, which we believe are consistent with the legislation, led to the current controversy,” Cattelan said.

“These temporary workers should have been assigned to other projects where there is an existing labour shortage. Going forward, PPJV will use its best efforts to ensure temporary foreign workers fill positions where there is a shortage.”

The federal Employment minister’s office said an investigation into the case will continue.

“Our government will not tolerate any abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program,” said spokesman Nick Koolsbergen.

“Those who are found to have violated the rules of Temporary Foreign Worker Program will be added to a blacklist and denied the ability to hire temporary foreign workers in the future. Canadians must be first in line for available jobs.”

Ottawa brought in new regulations in December to calm fears that foreigners were taking jobs from Canadians.

McGowan said what happened to the workers is not isolated case. He has received complaints about other Canadians losing their jobs to foreign workers.

He wants the federal government to revamp its foreign worker program. And he wants a royal commission to examine the whole issue.

“It’s simply not good enough for the employer to say, ‘Sorry, we’re going to hire the workers back,”’ said McGowan.

“What’s happened here is that they got caught with their hand in the cookie jar. And the bigger concern is that if the rules don’t change, and the federal government doesn’t get really serious about enforcing new and more aggressive rules, then we’re going to see this kind of situation repeated over and over again.”

Just Posted

WATCH: Rappelling down Red Deer’s Stantec Building a thrilling, scary experience

Advocate reporter chronicles his trip down the 13-storey buildling

Red Deer raises $60,000 for Make-A-Wish Foundation

27 brave residents rappell down Stantec Building

People hurt in rollover near Red Deer

Occupants of a vehicle that rolled south of Hwy 11A were airlifted… Continue reading

Eager-beaver cannabis entrepreneurs already waiting outside Red Deer City Hall

Appications will be accepted on a first-come basis starting on Tuesday

Like father like son: Red Deer area Dreeshen family dedicates life to public service

There are three jobs that could be considered the Dreeshen family business:… Continue reading

WATCH: Gazebo groundbreaking in Waskasoo

Fifty per cent of the $100,000 project is funded by a provincial government grant

Woman killed in collision near Olds

A woman is dead after a collision west of Olds Saturday afternoon.… Continue reading

Evacuation numbers remain at nearly 1,000 as B.C. wildfires rage on

SUMMERLAND, B.C. — Officials in British Columbia’s Okanagan region hope that fire… Continue reading

Survivors recount deadly Missouri duck boat sinking

BRANSON, Mo. — “Grab the baby!” Those were the last words Tia… Continue reading

HMCS St. John’s to return to Halifax after six-month deployment overseas

HALIFAX — The countdown is on for the homecoming of a Halifax-class… Continue reading

Trump says lawyer taping him may be ‘illegal’

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — The Latest on President Donald Trump and his onetime… Continue reading

Spieth part of 3-way tie for British lead as Woods lurks

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland — Jordan Spieth has a share of the lead in… Continue reading

WWII hero’s lost Purple Heart returned to his family

NEW YORK — A lost Purple Heart medal has been returned to… Continue reading

California girl, 2, accidentally shot and killed by boy, 4

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — Authorities say a 4-year-old boy accidentally shot and… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month