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]

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

  1. Anonymous says:

    I’ve spent a fair bit of time at Alstar, and I can tell you that everybody that works there gets paid poorly. They do treat everybody there like garbage unless you are one of the few that grew up there and are apart of “the boys club”. They company is run for the most part by people under 30 and don’t really know what they are doing, they are just trying to keep up with how the company has always been run.

  2. Anon says:

    We were brought over 3yrs ago and had to pay got everything except the hotel!! We were promised the flight money back but never came off! Was lead to believe we would get free health care, never happened!! Low wages! (The bosses are mostly contractors earning high pay and working permanently, while the workers are laid off and taken on again constantly) Long days! (They even had people working over the 16 hrs but they were told not to tell any one), people doing Quality Contol when they were brought over to be welders!! They treated people so badly they can’t keep staff!!! They even had new offices built last year while they had workers struggling to live because the wages were so low! It was reported they were billing big oil companies about $150 an hour each person when they were paying their workers approx $30 per hour!! The rich get richer and the poor get poorer!!

  3. Kelly zimmerman says:

    I worked there for 18 years (10 years ago now) it was a great place to work … best thing I ever did .. sorry to hear it has gone down hill … love fox creek

  4. Stephen Schnare says:

    The TFW program is a terrible idea. All it is is a way for companies to bring in foreign labour to replace Canadian workers, because despite everything you might have heard TFW’s don’t have to be paid as much as their Canadian counterparts.

    I don’t blame the guys coming in under the TFW program, it’s not their fault…they’re just trying to make a buck. These companies, however, need to be brought to task.

  5. Anonymous says:

    It’s not just Alstar. Its the oil patch .. Your just a number. You mean nothing to nobody.

  6. L.V. says:

    I was one of the 10 workers along with Allan McPhail in the TFW program. It happened exactly as he stated. Alstar got as there and after a few days they told us to go home. For 3 weeks they made us stay in our rooms and wait for their call. Finally they told us to go home. This was the most expensive ” holiday” in my life. Now back in the UK I had to take a bank loan to reestablish myself. Alstar did [email protected] us bad.

  7. Michael jervis says:

    I went to canada from Scotland to work in the oil patch for a year (originally on the rigs) but ended up at Alstar doing various work like pipelining, welders helper and pipe fitting. I always felt the guys there did heir best to keep me busy even when I broke my leg in a non work related accident, they had me working in the office sorting time sheets alphabetically zzz. One thing I can say is that 99%of the welders they hire are assholes, probably something to do with the fumes. But I think you get treated well in the company if you put the effort in at work. If you guys are reading this, cheers.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Waaaaaaaaa, stay the fuck out of alberta you whining fucking TFW’s. Don’t come here and bash a contractor. Losers!

    • Anonymous says:

      That last comment probably came from the mouth of one of altars young high paid supervisors. Go Alstar!! Keep raping, pillaging, and killing your workers! Alstar as a whole is such a joke and it is finally being brought to light. Alberta could do without a shady outfit like this giving albertans a bad reputation.

      • Anon says:

        I agree!! I think a few statements on here are from the staff at Alstar who as the article above said ‘not available for comment’! You have to think what they are hiding by not replying!!

      • froarnjim says:

        Yeah, nope. It probably came from someone like me who grew up here and know you gotta pay yer dues. It is SUPPOSED to be as you describe: it is the [email protected]$&king OILPATCH.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dear anonymous contractor,

      You are probably one of the many that call me each and everday looking for work. Telling me how many inches you can many bolt ups can be done…and when it comes time you show us how shitty you really are. Shitty at life really, making $70-110 per hour..not paying your taxes…dragging up as soon as you get a better offer..wanting fuel,travel,LOA blah blah blah. Lay off the real tradesmen wanting to better their lives.
      You have no idea what’s coming in the next couple years. If energy companies can pay you 30% less now…why would they push rates back up?

      • Anon says:

        And you’re most probably one of the office staff that drink and play golf with the owners so you can keep your cushy job sat destroying people’s lives because they don’t crawl like you! The FW wants to come and make a living the same as you!! As for welders not being able to do the job you need to remember that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones!!!!! Maybe you could show them how it’s done huh!! I doubt it lol

      • Ex Alstar TFW says:

        You’re obviously one of the ‘elite’ at Alstar if you’re getting calls every week!! Why don’t you take the calls from the government and stand and be counted and stop being ‘Sly’!!!!

    • Anon says:

      I heard plenty of Canadians bash Alstar so don’t make this a racist thing!! You’re just showing your ignorance!!

  9. Anonymous says:

    One of the worst companies to work for. They treat their employees horribly and abuse the people that work for them, on top of that they have a horrible safety program. They over work their employees and under pay. They hire anyone that walks through their door. Someone said it right, if your in the “boys club” or under a desk you get treated fairly. I can’t believe this company hasn’t gone under yet!

  10. John Berge says:

    Have never heard a good word about alstar

  11. Anonymous says:

    If you think Alstar is bad try working for Strike, or Flint, or Tradesman! The experience the TFWs had has very little to do with The contractor and more to do with the oil companies that they contract for! I can tell you after 20 plus years in oilfield construction that it is the nature of the beast to be called for a project that never got off the ground. I will also say that after all the oilfield construction companies I have worked for, Alstar has always been one of the best options.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I’ve worked a lot of places in Alberta and Alstar Has been good to me.They always have work and I’m sure its cause they have no idea what they are doing.. If you bust your ass and do a good job the fitters that run the jobs will notice you and you will get payed accordingly. But you have to show up to work on time and be sober. That’s a lot to ask in this day and age. I just don’t get it. Yes you have to work at Alstar to get a paycheque. P.s. It’s the oilpatch your gonna get dirty..

    • Anonymous says:

      I think alstar has reached it’s peak as far as growth goes. Sounds like the rich men in the office are struggling with the cover ups, looks like another one has slipped passed their fingers!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Alstar has a reputation around Alberta for having the best fitters and welders. Probably why there always so busy! I’m sure getting a spot there is hard to do. My buddy welded for them and said it was hard to keep up

    • Anonymous says:

      Lmao. Don’t you mean the unsafest place to work. And about 99% of the welders complain about their inch count and how much they need to weld in order to keep their jobs. The welders that have finally up and left after years of slaving away have said its the best choice they have made! Dose anyone actually know how many accidents/deaths alstar has had or how many they have tired to cover up. They will hire anyone, so yea if you can’t find work anywhere else or have a horrible criminal record or can’t pass a drug test, definitely the place for you to work!!!

    • Anonymous says:


      • Anonymous says:

        Sorry, last comment wasn’t supporting the guy above but the original post. Alstar is an Elite company to work for. If you can’t keep up, you won’t keep your position.

  14. Anonymous says:

    It’s too bad you were over here slumming it making only $30/hr when you must have clearly been making more at home.

    • Josh says:

      Yeah we was earning a lot more at home but packed up and left to bring our families over to experience a better life in a nicer part of the world. I was 1 of the 10 people promised a job with Alstar for 2years minimum then was told we would have to apply for citizenship to work long term for Alstar, me and my partner packed up sold and gave away all of our belongings and home to immigrate, I was over there for 3 weeks then was told to go home after giving our home up to come out and using all out savings to move to Canada. Its just 1 of those things that can’t be helped, I just wish they had told us that the job security wasn’t great at the moment and work might not pan out instead of just bringing us over and leaving us I the dark, hoping they would get work because there LMIA was due to run out. I don’t fault them they are a company and clearly out to make money at any cost it was a big loss finically to us but for me I got to see a beautiful part of the world that I had never experienced before. Josh

  15. Rob says:

    There is a simple solution UNIONIZE THE BASTARDS ?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Again, NO facts here. You should have done your research before beeking off. You clearly don’t know the TFW process, the O&G industry, the simple fact that it takes months and months and months to process an application. Not only that, but in the meantime, the O&G industry went to shit. So don’t yap about things you have NO idea about. Not only that, but these people were put up in a hotel for the duration they were here and got their flights paid for to go back. Why would any person expect to have all expenses covered?? Are you idiots?

    • Jeff says:

      I hope this information gets to all people wanting to utilize the TFW program to come work in the oilfield. Oilfield construction is a feast/famine industry, and this has been proven over and over again. I am a supervisor that Alstar contracts out. If a job comes up and I am available, I take the work. I do my best to create a safe production culture on my jobsites. I am coached when needed and listened to when needed. If I can’t keep up to the demanding schedule/productivity curve that is the backbone of Alstar, I will be replaced. For this reason I ensure that myself and my crew are working as efficiently as possible. This is not a company where you get hired and play “hide and seek for $2 Grand a week”. The oilfield is slow right now. If you are shitty, you are sitting. If you are sitting and broke right now, you have some free time… write yourself a letter today so you can read it when the oilfield picks up and you are making good money again. Tell yourself to SAVE SOME MONEY, DON’T BE LAZY, and WORK TOWARD BEING THE TOP 10% SO YOU HAVE WORK THE NEXT TIME THE INDUSTRY SLOWS DOWN. If the TFW program is not transparent regarding the fluctuation of work availability in the oil patch, that is a matter these individuals need to take up with them.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Your all a bunch of Goofs Alstar is a sad excuse for a Company It should be burned to the ground and finished off with me taking a huge shit on whats left of it.

  18. Anonymous says:

    After all these years of being in business you would have thought Alstar would be a company to work for. Disappointed to hear these things. Current owners group to blame for this down fall of a company that once was a good company. Best thing to do with a company like this is to “just not work for them”. Find a company that believes in their workers not abuse their workers or takes advantage of TFW programs. Its a shame a real shame:(

  19. Troy connett says:

    Alstar can suck my cock, what a fuckin joke

  20. Anonymous says:

    It’s almost comical reading these negative comments because you know what kind of workers would post them, the ones who never put in a solid effort to make something of themselves or were just lazy. I have worked for Alstar for many years and love it and they are great to me and gave me the experience to better myself. If you put the effort in and want to learn they will let you learn which is a hard thing to find with other companies. They hold to you a certain standard as a worker and in exchange for working at that level or showing that you strive to be at that level they will give you the opportunity to advance. If your just there to do your 12 hours and collect a pay check then that’s your own fault that that’s all you are to them, and your probably not on their top priority list of people to keep busy. It’s the oilfield we work long hours and long days it’s been that way forever and will always be that way suck it up and make something of yourself. Or go to the union and do hydro tests or bolt up until your 50 and never measure a piece of pipe… Good luck with that

  21. Anonymous says:

    Truly sorry to hear about giving everything up Josh. Tough break man. Hope it all works out for you.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Research research research.

  23. Nate says:

    To the newbies from the U.K. – sorry to hear things havent worked out. Its a rough time in the oilpatch in Canada, the roughest Ive seen in my 18 years of being in it. That being said, good hands are still busy so either I suspect you didnt get a chance to prove yourself, your not good hands, or theres only enough work for the good hands already here and you guys just missed the boat I guess. Ive personally known the owner and some of the guys who work there for about 15 years and they are good guys who know their stuff. I remember visiting the present owner (he wasnt back then) in his 5th wheel after a long day of work for both of us and offering him a beer but he couldnt because he was doing his drawings for the next day. If I have 18 years of experience and hes a couple years older than me that would give him 20 and thats in a busy place like Fox Creek so those 20 count for alot. I see no fault here except the price of the commodity that we build the infrastructure for, technology and then OPEC have lowered the cost and all we can do is keep our chins up, do a good job and hope for the best..

  24. Anonymous says:

    I worked for them for ten years…they were once good. Pretty certain there is still only one person who runs this company from afar. I learned a ton from them at the time. Especially that buisness is just buisness.Dont expect them to have any emotional attachment. ..they are there to make money that is all. When I started it was all about the employees was a good place to work. Too bad it changed.

  25. Cunty McGee says:

    I worked at Alstar for a few years. The best workers are well taken care of. If there’s still a welder doing QC, he was a shitty welder and lazy. Lazy people don’t last long. Good people are keep busy. For every 100 nice good people, there’s 1 or 2 arseholes. It’s a good place to work if you’re a good worker. The guys in the office are all out to lunch though. Safety doesn’t matter. It’s up to the shop foremen and field foremen to carry all the weight with zero support from the office staff.

    They tteat all foreigners poorly. Very racist in Hinton. They’ve been doing the TFW program for about 3 or 4 years, and they will take advantage of you every opportunity.

    I’d love to go back and work there, but they only hire foreigners now.

  26. Al says:

    “Employment and Social Development takes the integrity of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program very seriously”


  27. I know this great website you can post jobs available or browse jobs for free. It’s a niche job board for the oilfields, go take a look

    Moderator->> Please remove if not relevant, Thanks.

  28. Anonymous says:

    love all the QC bashing, pays way better than being a welder does

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