VIDEO “TEMPORARY FOREIGN WORKERS”, 2012 (26m55s)
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.
Temporary foreign worker Jaysen Reyes was shot in the face while he is working late night at a gas station in Red Deer Alberta on September 11, 2013. He survived the shooting and tells his story.
Edeline Agoncillo is a Filipino immigrant who worked for K-Bro for two years as a temporary foreign worker, before completing a college program that she was misinformed would lead to her receiving a Canadian work permit.
After coming to Canada as a refugee of the 1973 Chilean coup, Ramon Antipan worked for Canada Post and became President of CUPW Local 730, after which he continued to work on social justice issues in his retirement.
Lawyer Yessy Byl, who served as TFW advocate for the Alberta Federation of Labour, describes how the Temporary Foreign Worker Program exploits working people.
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.
Kathleen Cariaga-Estapa has been active in AUPE’s local at Chartwell in Edmonton where she first began work as a housekeeper who was a temporary foreign worker.
Evangeline Cayanan is an undocumented worker whose harrowing tales are an indictment of the Temporary Foreign Worker program and treatment of undocumented workers in Canada.
Long-time UFCW, Local 1118 employee Wayne Covey played the lead role in coordinating strike action among meatpacking workers in Alberta in 1986, including strikes at Gainers in Edmonton and Fletchers in Red Deer.
Shane Dawson was one of the organizers of the long but ultimately successful UFCW, Local 401 unionizing drive at Lakeside Packers from 1997 to 2004.
Danilo De Leon
Danilo De Leon is a Filipino immigrant who has been both a temporary foreign worker and an undocumented worker in Alberta.
Archie Duckworth played a leading role in organizing Lakeside Packers in Brooks in 2004 and the subsequent strike the union fought to win a collective agreement.
Albert Johnson was president of UFCW Local 1118 from 1986 to 2014, and his notable accomplishments included a successful strike against Fletchers Fine Foods in 1986 and winning rights for temporary foreign workers hired by meatpacking plants covered by Local 1118.
Emmanuel (Manny) Lacson
Manny Lacson is an immigrant worker from the Philippines who became active in a UFCW Local 401 union organizing drive at Lakeside Packers and then in two strikes in 2005.
While a temporary foreign worker at Olymel in Red Deer, Oscar Lopez assumed the role on behalf of UFCW Local 1118 of persuading management against imposing penalties on workers who failed to follow instructions because of language issues.
Doug O’Halloran was president of UFCW Local 401 when he was permanently disabled as a result of a car chase during a first-contract strike at Lakeside Packers.