ALBERTA

Noralta Lodge Ltd. Barred From Using Temporary Foreign Worker Program

11/06/2014 04:06 EST | Updated 01/06/2015 05:59 EST
CALGARY - The federal government has barred an Alberta lodging company from using the temporary foreign worker program for the next two years.

Noralta Lodge Ltd. was added to a government "public blacklist" website of employers who have broken the rules or been suspended from the program.

Noralta, which provides accommodation for workers in northern Alberta's oil and gas sector, was added to the list on Tuesday.

"Noralta Lodge's LMOs were revoked because they provided false, misleading or inaccurate information in the context of their application for temporary foreign workers," said Alexandra Fortier, a spokeswoman for Employment Minister Jason Kenney.

An LMO (labour market opinion) is required to prove the need to hire a foreign worker over a Canadian employee.

"Any allegation of abuse of the temporary foreign worker program will be vigorously investigated," Fortier said.

"If any employer is found to have broken the rules of the program, they will face serious consequences, including: having their LMOs revoked, being named on a public blacklist, having their ability to hire foreign workers cut off."

A spokeswoman for Noralta said the company fully co-operated in an audit last May and received word of the government's decision Wednesday night.

"Anything that takes our workforce practices into question is a concern for us," said Blaire McCalla, manager of communications.

"We're still trying to decipher what this means for us, but our understanding is that we've been banned from using the program for the next couple of years. It doesn't seem to affect our current workforce at this time."

McCalla said 33 of 560 Noralta employees are foreign workers who cover a number of jobs in the hospitality industry, including front desk, housekeeping, customer service and kitchen staff.

The company has five lodges in the Fort McMurray area, two north of the city and two more in central Alberta.

McCalla said 19 temporary foreign worker applications are affected by the government decision. An appeal may be possible.

"We believe there may be an opportunity for us to look at an appeal based on the information that they received from us and so we are looking into those options," she said.

"Our main concern is the workers we have on staff ... and it's our understanding right now they won't be affected."

The federal government brought in rules last June to limit the number of foreign workers that large- and medium-sized companies can hire so as to ensure Canadians are first in line for jobs.

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