The leader of the Alberta Federation of Labour challenged the minister of Citizenship and Immigration to a public debate after comments he made at the Chamber of Commerce yesterday.

Alberta-born Minister Jason Kenney said foreign workers aren’t stealing Canadian jobs and that labour leader Gill McGowan’s attacks on the federal government’s foreign workers program are outdated.

“The minister’s comments would be offensive if they weren’t so laughable,” McGowan responded.
He said AFL believes the program should be disbanded not because it takes jobs away from Canadians, but because it’s inherently exploitative.

Foreign workers, McGowan argued, are often taken advantage of by employers who force them to work unpaid overtime or refuse to pay them. He added that there are no enforcement mechanisms in place to ensure workers aren’t mistreated.

At yesterday’s luncheon, however, Kenney said that although there are occasionally abusive situations, the federal government is working with provincial counterparts to ensure these cases are being dealt with timely and efficiently.

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