ALHI’s Interviews and Videos on Temporary Foreign Workers


This video was prepared by ALHI for the Alberta Federation of Labour centennial in 2012 about the Temporary Foreign Worker program in Alberta. Canada has always depended on migrant labour, and despite evidence to the contrary, has earned a reputation as a welcoming country, offering hope and opportunity to people all over the world who are willing to provide labour in return for a home. This changed drastically with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), an innocuous federal program that was expanded beyond recognition to meet a high demand for labour in lower skilled jobs. A range of people from AFL President Gil McGowan through the workers themselves describe the abuses of the program and labour’s efforts to create a better situation.

YESSY BYL, TFW ADVOCATE, Interview from February, 2011

The AFL hired Edmonton lawyer Yessy Byl in 2007 to act as a TFW advocate providing case assistance to TFWs in need and offering education and policy advocacy. Within the first six months, Byl received more than 1,400 inquiries, handled 123 individual cases, and made dozens of representations on behalf of TFWs. She found widespread abuse and exploitation by employers and employment brokers and neglect by both levels of government. In this interview, featuring a clip from the filmed interview and a transcript of the complete interview, she describes her background and her experiences as an advocate for TFWs. Read Yessy Byl’s interview here.

James (Jim) Cardinal
Jim Cardinal was raised in a Cree-speaking Indigenous family in Owl River. After several years working in construction in Fort McMurray, he became a welder at Suncor and a union activist. As vice-president and then president of his local of his union local (part of today’s UNIFOR), Cardinal fought discrimination against Indigenous workers.