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Report/Press release

Temporary foreign workers: Alberta's disposable workforce. The six-month report of the AFL's Temporary Foreign Worker Advocate




The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL)




In 2006, for the first time in history, Alberta had more temporary foreign workers (TFWs)

arriving in our province than permanent immigrants. There were 22,392 TFWs working in

Alberta. Meanwhile only 20,717 immigrants were granted permanent resident status in the

same year. The number of TFWs in Alberta has doubled since 2003 and tripled since 1997.

This great influx of temporary workers has led to a growing concern about the working

and living conditions for the men and women brought here. Through the past two years,

the AFL and its affiliates grew increasingly alarmed at the reports about mistreatment,

exploitation and false promises. We were also concerned about the negative effects that

this growing use of TFWs was having on wages and the labour market.

In response to these concerns the AFL decided to launch a Temporary Foreign Worker

Advocate program to offer free services to TFWs needing assistance with work-related

problems. The Advocate was launched in April 2007, with Edmonton lawyer Yessy Byl

serving as the Advocate.

This report represents the findings of the Advocate after six months of assisting TFWs.

It covers the Advocate’s activities until October 31, 2007.

Advocate’s Activities

In six months, the Advocate has taken inquiries from over 1,400 people, and opened

case files for 123 TFWs in need of assistance. The Advocate also spoke to a number of

conferences and seminars as part of the mandate to educate Albertans. She also did dozens

of media interviews.

An analysis of the 123 files handled by the Advocate reveals a troubling picture of how

Alberta is treating this group of workers. Quite frankly, we are exploiting their vulnerability

and taking advantage of their precarious position.

The majority of the Advocate’s files (93 of 123) involved TFWs desperately seeking

alternate or even any kind of employment. The Advocate has been successful in placing 52

of them to date.

Number of pages


Responsible institution

The Alberta Federation of Labour

Place published


File Attachments


Economic sectors

General relevance - all sectors

Content types

Policy analysis

Geographical focuses