Thursday, November 8, 2012

New research on foreign workers and injury stats

Just Labour has issues its newest issue and there are two articles of note.

My colleague Jason Foster has published "Making temporary permanent: The silent transformation of the temporary foreign worker program". The gist is the TFW program expanded in the mid-2000s to address labour shortages but following the recession in 2008, has not contracted. That is to say, as a group, foreign workers are not temporary (contrary to federal and provincial government rhetoric) but rather represent a seemingly permanent group of (increasingly low-skill) workers that expand the labour pool. One implication of a looser labour pool may be a concerted effort to reduce wage pressures.

I also have an article in this issue entitled "The validity of Alberta safety statistics". The crux of this article is that injury statistics used to monitor workplace safety in Alberta significantly under-report the rate of injury and appear vulnerable to gaming, both by employers and the workers' compensation board. These threats to the validity of these measures suggest the government should limit the inferences drawn from them, which include "informing" the public that workplaces are relatively safe and increasingly safer.

-- Bob Barnetson

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