Edmonton-area franchisee concerned over changes to temporary foreign worker program

posted on September 10, 2014

By Julia Parrish | Link to Article

By Julia Parrish | Link to Article

The owner of a number of McDonald’s locations in the Capital Region says temporary foreign workers are imperative to keeping his 24-hour businesses running, and he’s concerned changes to the program will become a problem for his businesses.

Earlier in 2014, the federal government announced tighter restrictions to the program for the food service sector, measures included capping the number of hours a business can allocate to TFWs.

Nationally, statistics show less than 4 percent of the McDonald’s Workforce is filled by TFWs, but in Alberta, the number grows to nearly 24 percent.

Franchisee Rob Chiasson owns four locations in St. Albert, with a total of 250 employees, and a third of those are temporary foreign workers.

Chiasson says there is a dependence on such workers because of a labour shortage in all sectors.

“Tell me why the resource sectors that have very lucrative jobs are still short workers,” Chiasson said. “It’s not about wages; it’s about a shortage of people.”

The provincial government said Alberta will face a shortage of nearly 100,000 workers by the year 2023.

Chiasson said he believes most TFWs will be long gone, since it will cost businesses too much to keep them around.

His comments about the labour sector drew attention from Federal Labour Minister Jason Kenney, who tweeted, in part: “This claim that TFW reforms will “do irreparable damage” to Alberta’s economy is ridiculous”.

McDonald’s Canada said its TFW contracts are expiring, in Edmonton, the company is behind a hiring blitz where they’re hoping to bring in 250 people.

However, Chiasson said the last hiring blitz carried out in St. Albert resulted in three people being hired.

Read more