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Shoddy data used in TFWP approval process, says labour federation

Data from as far back as 2001 used: AFL


(Canadian OH&S News) — The wage data used by Alberta government officials to determine which Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) applications to approve are deeply flawed, according to documents uncovered by the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL).

According to a statement issued on Oct. 8 by the AFL in Edmonton, businesses seeking approval to hire workers through the TFWP must first prove that they are paying wages that are appropriate to their local labour market. The documents listing prevailing wage rates in regions across the country in 11 different occupations from 2009 to 2014 — recently obtained and verified by the AFL under a Freedom of Information request — show that permits were issued based on data that were sometimes eight years out of date from diverse and non-comparable data sources.

“The decision to let a business bring in a temporary foreign worker is a decision to let them pass over any Canadian who might want that job. It is a decision that can harm careers, can hurt families and can wreck lives,” AFL secretary treasurer and acting president Siobhán Vipond said. “If you are making a decision with those kinds of real-world consequences, you need to base your decision on good information. It is clear from these documents that approvals have been made on badly outdated information at best and complete nonsense at worst.”

According to government regulations, a business must be approved for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or Labour Market Opinion (LMO) before it is allowed to hire through the TFWP. These assessments are meant to ensure that businesses hire qualified Canadian workers. “When businesses are allowed to make an end run around the labour market, it undermines the rights of all workers,” Vipond said.

The wage documents indicate that some LMIAs and LMOs were issued based on information from Labour Force Surveys from 2010 to 2012, while others were based on Employment Insurance numbers in 2006. In some instances, the 2001 census was cited as the source of the data. In many cases, no data source was cited. “These are decisions made from 2009 to 2014, so I have no clue why they thought 2001 census data is still relevant,” Vipond noted.

The 11 National Occupation Codes that the AFL examined were as follows: machinists and machining and tooling inspectors; tool and die makers; electricians (except industrial and power systems); industrial electricians; power-system electricians; plumbers; steamfitters, pipefitters and sprinkler-system installers; gas fitters; ironworkers; welders and related machine operators; and carpenters.