The Alberta Coalition for Action on Labour Shortages (ACALS)

April 12, 2013 12:43 ET

Alberta Business Coalition Reacts to Foreign Worker Program Fraud Allegations

EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - April 12, 2013) - The Alberta Coalition for Action on Labour Shortages (ACALS), which includes representatives from every major sector of Alberta's economy, is calling Alberta Federation of Labour allegations of widespread fraud in the accelerated stream of the federal Temporary Foreign Worker program (TFW) unduly provocative and exaggerated.

"There are perennial critics who believe the TFW program in all its forms should be eliminated completely. In an effort to turn public opinion against foreign workers and the important role they play in helping to address acute labour shortages, some critics continue to make over-stated claims in the media" stated Richard Truscott, Alberta Director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB).

Truscott was responding to allegations made by the Alberta Federation of Labour that there was widespread abuse of the Accelerated Labour Market Opinion (A-LMO) process that was announced by the Federal Government in April 2012. ACALS members applauded the accelerated program because it reduced the processing of applications from months to a matter of days. To be eligible to apply for accelerated processing, qualifying employers must have a track record of compliance with employment, labour and immigration standards and rules. Part of the process also includes ensuring that eligible employers are subjected to potentially more rigorous audits of their operations once the workers are in place.

"We recognize that finding qualified employees is primarily the responsibility of employers, and we take that responsibility seriously," said Jim Rivait, CEO of the Canadian Home Builders' Association - Alberta. "Coalition members continue to up-train and re-train their employees to better meet workforce challenges, and tapping into non-traditional markets in Canada and abroad."

Over the past few years, government and industry have effectively worked together to ensure Canadians are given the first chance to benefit from these opportunities. These initiatives include:

  • Investing in career awareness, scholarships, and training and outreach initiatives such as apprenticeship.

  • Actively recruiting workers across Canada, seeking to employ Canadians who have the necessary skills and who are prepared to come to Alberta.

  • Pursuing continuous improvement and maximizing the productivity of business operations to make the best use of existing staff.

Despite these ongoing efforts, there remains a shortfall of available workers domestically to fill the needs of the growing economy.

In 2012, the Conference Board of Canada predicted that Alberta would create over 130,000 net new jobs over two years and the Alberta government forecast that there would be shortage of 114,000 more jobs than people to fill them in coming years. According to Statistics Canada, Alberta workers continue to receive the highest wages in the country. Alberta also consistently experiences extremely low unemployment rates.

While the Coalition recognizes that there may be some isolated problem cases, the Federal Government, as indicated in the recent budget and in meetings prior to the tabling of the budget that it is reviewing measures to ensure all immigration programs are responding appropriately to Canada's economic and social needs. With the one year anniversary of the A-LMO process upon us, the Coalition believes it is premature to conclude that program rules are being flagrantly violated because the Federal Government has not yet had time to conduct the employer audits that were part and parcel of the process when it was developed and introduced.

Alberta Enterprise President Tim Shipton stated, "The TFW program continues to be an important recruitment tool of last resort for employers that are unable to find workers in Alberta and Canada and must at the same time take care of their customers. It's important that we do not throw out the baby with the bath water when dealing with isolated cases of non-compliance. Members of the Alberta Coalition for Action on Labour Shortages look forward to participating in consultation discussions with all levels of government and all stakeholders to ensure that all immigration programs are achieving results that are in the interests of all Albertans and Canadians."

Attention editors: Please see the following backgrounder for more information, and to contact businesses who use immigration programs to meet labour requirements.

BACKGROUNDER: The Alberta Coalition for Action on Labour Shortages (ACALS)

  • ACALS members collectively employ hundreds of thousands of Albertans and represent every sector area of the province - from small businesses to large employers.

  • The coalition came together in late 2011 to identify areas of common interest and work together to identify solutions.

The Alberta Coalition for Action on Labour Shortages is:

Alberta Construction Association
Alberta Chambers of Commerce
Alberta Enterprise Group
Alberta Forest Products Association
Alberta Motor Transport Association
Alberta Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association
Calgary Chamber of Commerce
Calgary Economic Development
Canadian Association of Geophysical Contractors
Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors
Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
Canadian Energy Pipeline Association
Canadian Federation of Independent Business
Canadian Home Builders' Association-Alberta
Canadian Institute of Steel Construction
Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters
Canadian Restaurant and Food Services Association
Consulting Engineers of Alberta
Edmonton Economic Development Corporation
Landscape Alberta
Merit Contractors Association
Petroleum Human Resources Council / Enform
Petroleum Services Association of Canada
Progressive Contractors Association of Canada
Retail Council of Canada

ACALS member companies are utilizing immigration to meet Alberta's workforce needs

For more information on how various Alberta businesses are attempting to use immigration programs to meet labour requirements, and the challenges they face, please contact any of the supporting organizations.

Alberta Coalition for Action on Labour Shortages (ACALS)

Participating Organization Media Contacts :

Alberta Construction Association: Ken Gibson, Executive Director Ph: 780-455-1122
Alberta Chambers of Commerce: Ken Kobly, President and CEO Ph: 780-425-4180 ext 5 TF:1-800-272-8854 ext 5 C: 780-975-1659
Alberta Enterprise Group: David McLean, Vice-President Communications Ph: 780-481-7205 C: 780-965-4691
Alberta Forest Products Association: Brock Mulligan, Director of Communications C: 780-239-6890
Alberta Motor Transport Association: Don Wilson, Executive Director Ph: 403-214-3429
Alberta Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association: Heidi Harris-Jensen, Director of External Affairs Ph: 780-436-9860
Calgary Economic Development: Jeanette Sutherland Manager of Workforce and Productivity Ph: 403.221.7898 C: 587.227.7712
Canadian Federation of Independent Business: Richard Truscott, Director of Provincial Affairs Ph: 403-444-9290 C: 403-971-9291
Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors: Nancy Malone, Vice President Operations Ph: 403 264- 4311 ext.111
Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers: Tony McCallum, Advisor, MediaRelations Ph .403-267-1142)
Consulting Engineers of Alberta: Ken Pilip, CEO & Registrar/Sheldon Hudson Vice-President Ph: 780-421-1852
Canadian Association of Geophysical Contractors: Mike Doyle, President Ph: 403-265-0045
Canadian Energy Pipeline Association: Kim McCaig, Vice President & COO Ph: 403-221-8779
Canadian Home Builders' Association-Alberta: Jim Rivait, CEO Ph: 780-424-5890 Ext 225 TF: 800-661-3348 C: 780-915-8546
Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters: Mathew Wilson, Vice President National Policy & Alberta, (647) 808-8231.
Canadian Restaurant & Foodservices Association: Mark von Schellwitz, Vice President Western Canada Ph: 1- 866-300-7675 or cell 604-809-5719.
Edmonton Economic Development Corporation: Renee Worrell, Communications Manager, External Relations Ph. 780-917-7894
Merit Contractors Association: Bill Stewart, Vice-President Ph. 780-454-5512 C: 780-695-6798
Petroleum Services Association of Canada: Elizabeth Aquin, Sr. Vice President Ph. 403-264-4195 TF: 800-818- 7722.
Progressive Contractors Association of Canada: Paul de Jong, Executive Director Ph:403 620 3781

Contact Information

  • CFIB
    Richard Truscott
    (403) 444-9290

    Jim Rivait
    (780) 915-8546

    Tim Shipton
    (780) 909 -8584