Explanation of why the creation of the Gateway pipeline from Alberta to Kitimat BC will raise the price of crude oil for Canadian refineries.
Segment III titled, "Northern Gateway Hearings. The Alberta Federation of Labour says the Enbridge pipeline project will actually eliminate Canadian jobs"
It is true that the creation of the northern gateway pipeline will rise the crude oil price for the Canadian refineries. Despite the fact that Enridge alleged that there are thousands of new jobs created from the pipeline project, this economic benefit is deemed as insufficient to outweigh the enormous job losses from the refinery sector (as mentioned by Gil McGowen, president of Alberta Federation of Labour Union).
According to an economist from the CBC radio, the reason behind such detrimental impact to the refinery industry is because even though Canada is being paid with the so-called Asian premium when they agree to take China's offer. Consequently, the oil supply in Canada becomes more scarce due to large amounts of exports. This, in turn, rises the market price for oil which adversely affects the Canadian consumers, refinery industry, and oil upgraders plants, as oil in home country becomes more expensive. In effect, some oil refining firms choose to exit the market due to negative profits, which results in many job losses within Canada. The amount of job losses exceeds that of the new jobs generated by Enridge, and thus an approximation of $750m hit in the Canadian GDP.
The Get Out of Fail Free Card Mission, Sept 07 2012
Masters Student, U of BC
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney continues to remove barriers to ensure Alberta's oilsands and construction industries have access to the skilled tradespeople they need. Last week, Kenney expanded a pilot program that allows foreign workers to change bosses, rather than being tethered to one employer for the duration of their stay.
We think that makes sense and provides a measure of flexibility for temporary workers, as well as some assurance they won't have to endure abuse from their bosses.
"This collapses what used to be a six-month, complicated, bureaucratic process into a one-step process, where they can get a work permit in 30 minutes at the airport," Kenney said.
For the past year, foreign steamfitters and pipefitters in the pilot project have been able to move freely between Alberta employers. Now, other in-demand tradespeople, including welders, heavy-duty mechanics, ironworkers, millwrights and carpenters will also be able to join the program.
A concern raised by Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan bears noting. He says half the companies looking to hire foreign construction workers don't offer apprenticeship training programs - a shortcoming that should be remedied.
Canadians rightly expect skilled foreign workers to complement a homegrown workforce, not substitute for skills training. Both levels of government, and industry, need to ensure that young people, women and aboriginals, in particular, are given a chance to secure trades training so they can have access to lucrative and rewarding careers.
Calgary Herald Editorial, July 23 2012
AFL Statement on the proposed takeover of Nexen by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC)
The oil sands are one of Canada's most important strategic resources. We simply can't let them through our fingers. And they shouldn't simply be auctioned off to the highest bidder. When it comes to developing resources like the oil sands, we have to start thinking about the long-term best interests of Canadians in areas like jobs and the environment. If we relinquish decision making power to companies that are controlled by foreign governments, we won't have any say on those issues. The Harper government needs to wake up and stop letting ideology get in the way of what's best for Canadians.
The bottom line for us is that no deals like this should be approved until Canada has developed a national energy strategy that ensures that the interests of Canadians are looked after before the interests of big corporations or foreign governments. But not just any national energy strategy. A strategy has to be about more than pipelines and quicker approvals for projects. We need a national energy strategy that says upgrading and refining jobs should be kept here in Canada instead of being shipped down the pipeline; that says that our resources should be developed in the most environmental sustainable way possible; and which guarantees that energy needs of Canadians will be looked after before the energy needs of foreign countries.
The federal government has the power to turn down this deal and they should do just that, just like they did with the proposed foreign takeover of Saskatchewan's potash industry, if this takeover doesn't fit with a broader strategy of ensuring we get the maximum value out of our non-renewable resources.
For more information:
Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour (780) 218-9888
For immediate release
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
AFL decries further watering-down of checks and balances of Temporary Foreign Worker Program
Canadians should get first crack at high-paying jobs
EDMONTON - The Alberta Federation of Labour is deeply concerned about the Harper government’s further watering down of checks and balances of the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program.
“Canadians should get first crack at these jobs. But the Harper government is more interested in the bottom line of their friends in the non-union construction sector,” says Nancy Furlong, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alberta Federation of Labour, representing 150,000 Alberta workers.
Furlong made these comments in light of Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announcing his intent to expand an Alberta pilot project that allows employers to recruit foreign workers without attempting to fill the positions with Canadians first. Kenney is also allowing employers to hire TFWs without having to report anything about where they are working. There will also be fewer safeguards against abuses, despite the fact that the previous TFW rules, even with their weak safeguards, has been found to be ripe with worker rip-offs, poor working conditions, and unscrupulous recruiters charging TFWs illegal fees.
“Foreign workers are supposed to receive comparable wages and working conditions as Canadians, but there are no real mechanisms in place to ensure this happens. Once the foreign workers are in the province, they work at the whim of their employer,” says Furlong noting that a 2010 Government of Alberta report found that 74% of employers who hired workers under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program had violated the Employment Standards Act regarding pay rates and record keeping.
“Under this program, employers don’t have to show that they’ve made any attempts to fill these jobs with Canadians first. Kenney's latest move makes the Temporary Foreign Worker program an employer's first choice, not last resort.
"The result is employers can use these workers in ways that Canadians might not tolerate,” says Furlong. “Once a foreign worker is brought in under this program, they can be moved around willy-nilly at the behest of the employer or employers who brought them in.”
The AFL is repeating the call to expand permanent immigration in order to address shortages that may exist in Alberta in select trades. The Alberta Federation of Labour has long held the position that the TFW program should be scrapped in favour of an immigration policy that brings in new Canadians in order to build our economy in a sustainable way.
“This is not about a labour shortage, it's a low-wage strategy. This is mostly designed to give companies access to a big pool of non-union construction labour that is desperate for work.”
For more information:
· Nancy Furlong, Secretary Treasurer, Alberta Federation of Labour (780) 720-8945
TC:lmr*cope458 G:\Communications\NEWS\AFL\2012\2012-27 TFW
EDMONTON - The door is open much wider for temporary foreign workers in six construction jobs, and tradesmen from the U.S. can now pick up work permits at the airport, the federal immigration minister announced Monday.
But organized labour is worried Canadians may be left out if companies are no longer required to consider them first in six job categories.
At Alberta's request, the federal government has agreed to eliminate the requirement that an employer must prove that Canadians were not available (called a labour market opinion) in six job categories — welder, ironworker, carpenter, estimator, millwright and heavy duty equipment mechanic. Pipefitters have been coming for a year without a requirement for the LMO.
These are high-demand occupations and employers need to be able to recruit workers much faster to meet growing demand in the oilsands and in Edmonton, where the unemployment rate is 4.4 per cent, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said.
Once inside the province, temporary workers will now be able to take jobs with other employers when their first contracts are over, Kenney said. Previously, foreign workers could not change employers.
Kenney said he had no concerns about eliminating the requirement for the LMO, a document outlining evidence of a shortage in a particular category of worker and proof the employer had advertised in Canada for workers but got no response.
Kenney stressed he would rely on the provincial government to keep an eye on trends in construction employment to determine if the shortage turns into an oversupply of labour in those categories.
Kenney said he doesn't think the federal government will be "so keen" to open the doors that wide in other areas, including for unskilled temporary foreign workers.
Temporary foreign workers must have job offers and documents to prove they are qualified in a trade before getting work permits.
The new rules will help companies recruit in the U.S., where many construction workers remain unemployed, Kenney said. U.S. workers can work for three weeks and spend a week back home — a pattern common for many Canadians working in the oilsands.
But Gil McGowan, head of the Alberta Federation of Labour, said it's a mistake to eliminate the LMO, the one check in the system that protected Canadian access to such jobs.
"We're troubled by this decision, which eliminates the checks and balance," said McGowan.
Alberta's non-union contractors gain a big advantage under the new system, he said. Along with elimination of the LMO, Prime Minister Stephen Harper three months ago announced foreign workers can be paid up to 15 per cent less than the going Canadian wage.
But union employers must abide by the collective agreement, said McGowan.
"This will help make foreign workers the first choice not the last resort," said McGowan.
"This is not about a labour shortage, it's a low wage strategy. This is mostly designed to give companies access to a big pool of construction labour in the U.S. that is desperate for jobs."
McGowan noted that half the companies looking for construction workers do not have apprenticeship training programs, and said those companies should not be allowed to bring in temporary workers.
"They don't want long-term solutions, they want quick fixes, and that's what Harper will give them."
Some parts of Canada have not recovered from the 2008 recession and unemployment remains high in parts of Eastern Canada, he said. "The federal government should be ashamed of itself given the high unemployment in some provinces."
Stephen Khan, Alberta's minister for enterprise and advanced education, said he's pleased with the new rules, which will create a fast track for six occupations by eliminating paperwork and weeks of waiting involved to obtain the LMO.
"We are engaging industry" to take a bigger role in recruiting labour, he said. "They can identify what they need and who they want."
Khan said he's not concerned there is no check in the system to make sure Canadians get first shot at the jobs. The government will be guided by "internal metrics" about the job market, he said.
"We have to make sure we stay ahead of the curve," said Khan.
In a meeting Monday with the Journal editorial board, Kenney noted there is high unemployment among aboriginal youth and up to 14 per cent of immigrants are jobless or chronically underemployed.
"I think employers have to do a lot more about skill training," he said.
Kenney said he is not considering extending permanent residency to temporary foreign workers, since that would add another 180,000 people to the 280,000 annually allowed into the country.
"If we were to grant residency to all, that would be 400,000 and I don't think that is sustainable."
The Edmonton Journal, July 16 2012
Byline: Sheila Pratt
Western premiers ink deal to tumble trade barriers: Provinces to pool drug purchases, int'l marketing plans
EDMONTON - Canada's three westernmost provinces signed a wide-ranging deal Friday that will apply to everything from trade, investment and labour mobility to international marketing.
The New West Partnership creates a powerful $550-billion trading block with roughly nine million people that the governments say will save money and allow them to better exploit Asian markets.
"We've just gone through a huge global economic shift," Premier Ed Stelmach said from Regina. "There's going to be a tremendous competition for labour, for investment. And investment will naturally navigate to those areas that have the same regulations, larger base populations."
The agreement between B.C., Saskatchewan and Alberta builds on the trade, investment and labour mobility agreement, or TILMA, that Alberta and B.C. signed in 2006.
But officials say this agreement is more far-reaching, since it is coupled with an international marketing push and puts an emphasis on procurement and innovation.
The agreement seeks to co-ordinate virtually all government regulation and professional standards. Teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers and members of any other regulated profession will be able to move freely between the provinces.
The premiers say their provinces could save money under the deal by pooling their purchases for things like machinery and medical supplies.
In particular, Wall said they are looking at bulk drug buying. "Of the $8 billion in procurement that each province is making, a lot of that money is going toward health care."
Governments will still be able to enforce their own regulations for "legitimate objectives," such as public health and safety, environmental protection and worker safety.
The deal also offers protection for Crown corporations through a separate agreement of the provinces' trade ministers.
The TILMA agreement has faced opposition, particularly from labour groups who fear it will create a regulatory race to the bottom.
Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said the new deal passes too much power from elected officials to companies who have their own interests at heart.
He was skeptical of claims that governments will be able to protect the public interest once the deal is fully implemented in 2013.
"Governments shouldn't have to spend millions of dollars trying to protect their right to regulate in the public interest. They should just be able to do it," McGowan said.
Liberal Leader David Swann said the deal should be debated in the legislature so Albertans can have concerns like McGowan's addressed. But overall, he said it makes sense to knock down trade barriers between the provinces.
"If we're going to have free trade south of the border, surely we should have it across our own borders here," Swann said.
The three premiers will all be part of a trade mission to Beijing, Shanghai and Tokyo from May 14 to 22.
Edmonton Journal, Sat May 1 2010
Byline: Archie McLean
Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan have come together to form an alliance they say will make Western Canada an "economic powerhouse."
The three provinces signed the New West Partnership in Regina on Friday, a partnership that would put the trio's combined market value at $555 billion.
"We signed an agreement today that creates an amazing economic force," said Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.
The partnership aims to look at ways to attract more investors and deal internationally, specifically in Asia.
"(Western Canada) is an economic region that is home to a number of industries that the world is very interested in right now. It is home to not only the resources that people want, but the innovations and the science that the world is interested in," Wall said.
"When you can say to international investors there's a nine million-person market that's available, when you can say that to our own businesses, it is a very positive economic launching pad," said B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell.
But Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour doesn't agree.
"The vast majority of companies that decide to invest in Alberta make those decisions based on our resources, rather than our rules and regulations," McGowan said.
Under the agreement, there are also plans to remove trade, investment, and labour mobility barriers between the three provinces, similar to concepts of TILMA, the trade, investment and labour mobility agreement signed between Alberta and B.C. in 2007, which had been openly protested by the Council of Canadians and the Alberta Federation of Labour. But the premiers have stressed that New West is not the same as TILMA.
McGowan says the labour and trade component of the New West agreement is trying to "fix a problem that doesn't exist."
"The reality is there isn't a problem of labour mobility in this country and there hasn't been for years."
But a spokesman for the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation says any initiative that lessens or removes trade and investment barriers is positive for the economy.
New West will also look at joint procurement, whether items like medical equipment, textbooks for schools and pharmaceutical products can be bulk purchased as a way to save on provincial spending.
"All three provinces are going to be able to reduce some of their public expenditures and when we do that we can then keep our taxes low," Premier Ed Stelmach said.
"When we move to a common procurement strategy, we will save millions of dollars for our taxpayers," Campbell said.
"Our taxpayers will get much better value for every dollar that we take out of their pockets."
The three premiers head to Asia on May 14 to make their first appearance as part of the New West to Asian investors.
The New West Partnership trade agreement will officially come into effect July 1.
Edmonton Sun, Fri Apr 30 2010
Byline: Linda Hoang
QUEBEC CITY - The leaders of all of Canada's provincial and territorial labour union federations will hold a news conference in Quebec City tomorrow morning, challenging the provincial premiers to justify their plans for major changes to Canada's internal trade rules.
Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan and all of his provincial and territorial counterparts warn that the premiers are on the verge signing off on new internal trade rules that will significantly reduce the range of policy options available to governments as they grapple with pressing issues like climate change, the manufacturing crisis and the rapidly rising cost of living.
The new rules, which will be discussed tomorrow by the Premiers at their annual conference being held in Quebec City, will likely give corporations the right to sue governments for policies, regulations or programs that business perceives as standing in the way of private-sector profit-making.
"The premiers say these changes are necessary to deal with barriers to labour mobility," says McGowan. "But the truth is that workers already move almost effortlessly across provincial boundaries. So all this talk about mobility is a smoke screen for something else - something much more sinister."
The labour federation news conference will be held at the Hotel Manoir Victoria in Quebec City tomorrow, July 17, at 11 a.m. The hotel is located at 44, Cote du Palais.
- 30 -
For more information contact:
Gil McGowan, AFL President @ 780.483-3021 (office) or 780.218-9888 (cell)
A new study released by the Alberta Federation of Labour says the Trade Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) will dumb down trade qualifications. The study claims the agreement opens the door to "watered-down trade qualifications" of Alberta workers to meet lower B.C. standards.
"We see this as a TILMA-triggered race to the bottom in the areas of professional and skilled labour qualifications," said Gil McGowan, federation president. "It's clear this isn't really a deal about trade or investment. It's setting the stage for dumbing down ... getting the job done with lesser qualified employees."
The implications of this should concern everyone, he said. He wondered "do you really want your homes to be built by someone with lower qualifications?"
The federation is sending copies of the study to all Alberta MLAs and asking the province to rescind the legislation.
McGowan pointed out there is an intent in TILMA to harmonize requirements for 50 Alberta occupations, mostly in the construction industry, currently exempt from TILMA because of higher standards. He's skeptical of the outcome, saying it will be a harmonizing down rather than up to the higher Alberta standards.
"That's bad news for both workers and the public," he added. "We should always be pushing for the highest possible occupation requirements, no matter which province they come from," he said.
"The last time I checked, there were no border guards stopping people or goods going between the two provinces," said McGowan. "We question the entire rationale (for TILMA). There already is free trade between the two provinces."
Danielle Smith, the director of provincial affairs in Alberta for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, says she didn't see anything in the agreement that Alberta standards are going to erode.
"I don't believe any government is going to allow that kind of erosion because public support isn't going to be behind them for it," she observed.
Smith noted the real agenda here is to protect the local labour market.
"When the unions are able to restrict the number of people who can come into this market then it creates shortages and it bids up wages," she said.
Someone who's a certified funeral director, for example, in B.C., should be able to move seamlessly into the same career here. "If there are barriers in the way that are preventing that, I think the government has an obligation and a duty to strip those down and I think that's what workers want," said Smith.
Saying the agreement is to ease trade and labour movement between the two provinces, she cited truckers hauling hay who had to stop at the B.C.-Alberta border to reload to meet some new rules in B.C. "Those are the kinds of silly things they're trying to sweep out of the way," said Smith.
The summary of the study, prepared by Steven Shrybman of the law firm Sack Goldblatt Mitchell in Ottawa, describes TILMA as "an instrument for de-regulation" with a corrosive influence on employment-related standards that will be weakened and undermined in both provinces. The study was also critical of the lack of public consultation and legislative debate in its creation. With the predicted impacts on many spheres of public policy and law, it concluded both provinces should reconsider their commitment to such a "draconian and unwarranted constraint on the exercise of public and democratically determined authority."
Fort McMurray Today, Page A3, Tues July 17 2007
Byline: Carol Christian