Alstar under investigation for abusing TFW program leaving worker $10k out of pocket

An Alberta-based oilfield contractor is under investigation by the federal government after a temporary foreign worker (TFW) accused the company of violating program regulations.

The allegations against Alstar Oilfield Contractors has only worsened following our initial article confirming the Alberta company’s misuse of the temporary foreign worker program, with explicit approval by the former Conservative government.

In an interview with Allan McPhail, a 39-year-old welder from the UK who was one of 10 TFWs who arrived in Alberta to fill the vacant positions being offered at Alstar, it was brought to light that he paid about $10,000 out of pocket for the plane ticket out here, living expenses, and more before eventually being told the contract he was supposed to fill, was postponed.

“It felt as if they wanted us on a plane as soon as possible after that,” McPhail said.

“I didn’t work at all apart from a couple of days for a first aid course and health and safety, however I didn’t get paid for any of these days,” wrote McPhail in a follow-up email. Further, he stated, “I was told that I would have to pay for these courses.”

Right from the onset he said things were not in order.

McPhail explained there was a problem with the work permit upon arrival — it was in someone else’s name — and took about a week to get it all sorted, though to no avail.

Initially, he was instructed by Alstar that he would work 24 days on and four off.

Alstar also advised he would need a vehicle when here, which simply added to the burdensome costs.

McPhail was put up in a hotel, which Alstar did pay for, for the time he was here, which was about four weeks. The bill amounted to about $1,500.

“I have a young family to support this job move was meant to better us as a family instead it has caused misery and I have lost most of my savings,” McPhail wrote in an email.

McPhail said his wife had to send him money on more than one occasion to keep him afloat. He added, in over 20 years working in the industry, he’s never had an experience like this, stating, “I won’t be coming back. I don’t trust the company.”

Julia Sullivan, media relations at Employment and Social Development Canada, said via email: “Employment and Social Development takes the integrity of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program very seriously, including ensuring that employers are compliant with the program requirements. All allegations of potential abuse are reviewed, and appropriate action taken.

“The Department is actively looking into this situation.”

Alstar was contacted a number of times for comment. No one was made available.

[Photo Credit: jasonwoodhead23/Flickr]