Kathy Tomlinson and Raj Ahluwalia | Hillman Foundation

2015 Honourable Mention

Employer Abuses of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program
Kathy Tomlinson and Raj Ahluwalia
CBC News: The National

CBC’s coverage of employer abuses of the Temporary Foreign Worker program showed a federal government program that was out of control and full of abuses.  The TFW program is intended to fill acute labour needs when Canadians are not available for the work required. But, employers from RBC to McDonald’s were caught violating the rules by replacing already-employed Canadian workers with foreign workers brought in on contracts. In some cases those workers required the soon to be unemployed Canadians to train them, in others the foreign workers  were exploited.

The CBC focus on the abuse of the TWF program generated widespread public criticism and caused the Harper to investigate the allegations. As a result it announced severe restrictions to the program which in turn meant better job protection for workers and a recognition that employers would have to pay higher wages in times of worker shortages.

Kathy Tomlinson started her journalism career in television reporting in 1989, at CTV’s Edmonton station CFRN. In the early 1990s, she was the Alberta Legislative Reporter for ITV and its sister station in Calgary. During the next 10 years, Tomlinson worked as an investigative reporter for the CBC in Alberta and in British Columbia. Her stories helped initiate investigations, change policies and hold governments and companies accountable. She was also instrumental in getting an Alberta woman, Lisa Neve, released from federal prison after she was wrongfully designated a dangerous offender.

After joining CTV as national reporter in Vancouver, Tomlinson moved to Washington, D.C. in 2002 where she reported on the Bush administration and the war in Iraq for CTV’s national news. Tomlinson then became CTV’s “Whistleblower,” using her passion for investigative reporting to lead this news segment devoted to exposing wrongdoing, injustice, incompetence and waste inside and outside the government.

Tomlinson has won several awards for investigative reporting including three Jack Webster Awards for Best Reporting of the Year and several Radio-Television News Directors Association (RTNDA) national and regional awards. She won a 2008 award for investigative journalism from the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) and the 2009 and 2010 award for investigative reporting from the RTNDA. Most recently, she won for best online series of articles at the 2013 Canadian Online Publishing Awards for her stories on RBC’s use of foreign workers. She also won the 2013 CAJ labour reporting award, also for the RBC/foreign workers stories.

She is currently host of CBC Vancouver’s news segment Go Public. The investigative stories run on CBC TV, radio and the web. Go Public stories come exclusively from people who write in story ideas. The segment seeks to shed light on untold stories that are of public interest and hold those responsible accountable.

Raj Ahluwalia has been a senior producer of The National in Toronto since the fall of 2009, taking a few months off to teach in the Journalism program at the University of King’s College in Halifax. He has been a journalist for more than 30-years—beginning as a copy-clerk while still at Carleton University, to a reporter at the Oshawa Times. Along the way, he has also been a reporter for CBC Radio in Yellowknife, Inuvik, Ottawa, Iqaluit (Frobisher Bay when he was there), Regina and Toronto where he worked at Queen’s Park. Ahluwalia was hired by The National in 1998. He has covered Canadian elections, presidential debates in US campaigns, and the Walkerton water disaster. He was sent to New York for 9/11 coverage. In 2003, he became the Toronto Bureau Chief, responsible for assigning and managing all local and national reporters in Toronto. After a few years, he worked on a new international news program—the first daily show of its kind in Canada. When that ended, he rejoined The National.