Labour exploitation enabled by temporary foreign worker program, report says

December 3, 2016

By CBC News |

Many people who are victims of labour exploitation in Edmonton came to Canada through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, a new report from ACT Alberta says.

Victims are being exploited and controlled through deceit, monitoring, isolation and fear, said Kate Quinn, vice president.of the organization which aims to stop human trafficking.

ACT Alberta — the Action Coalition on Human Trafficking — considers labour exploitation to be a form of human trafficking. Quinn said workers are toiling for long hours for less than minimum wage.

“Many popular businesses in this city are reaping immense profits off the backs of labour trafficking victims,” Quinn said.

The authors of the report interviewed agency staff, lawyers, police officers and several victims of labour trafficking.

Quinn said about half of the people who are referred to ACT Alberta are victims of labour trafficking. She said the TFW program isn’t doing enough to protect people.

“This program is failing,” she said. “It is failing to protect the rights of migrant workers and is being manipulated by immigration consultants, recruiting agencies and employers.”

The report makes 17 recommendations. They include giving temporary foreign workers permits giving them the mobility to move within a region or sector, so they aren’t tied to one employer, and to increase resources so recruiters and employers can be watched.

The report also recommends foreign workers be given information outlining their rights and who they should contact if they feel they are being exploited.

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