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Protesters with placards demonstrated Saturday at Edmonton's Churchill Square, calling for an end to the exploitation of temporary foreign workers. ((CBC))

Several dozen people rallied in Edmonton pm Saturday to raise awareness about the struggles faced by temporary foreign workers.

Carrying signs that read "Respect the work, respect the worker," protesters at Churchill Square called for an end to the exploitation of temporary foreign workers.

They say workers come to Alberta looking for better opportunities but many are taken advantage of by employers.

Clarizze Truscott, who organized the rally, said it's painful to watch her friends who are foreign workers being abused at work.

"The way the program is, it is generally flawed," she said. "It creates second-class citizens, it sets people up for exploitation and abuse. This is unacceptable, and this is why we're drawing attention to those issues."

Joe Delana, originally from the Philippines, moved to Edmonton from Dubai in 2006.

He says he was taken advantage of when he first arrived, being forced to take on extra duties and work overtime without being paid for it.

"Here in Canada, there's a lot of opportunity, but not for foreign workers."

Delana and others at the rally called on the federal government to make changes that would loosen restrictions and allow temporary foreign workers to apply for citizenship.

"I think Canada is a free country but you cannot move freely because there is a lot of restrictions on us," Delana said.  

New Democrat MLA Rachel Notley came to the rally to show her support for Edmonton's temporary foreign workers.

"We should welcome them and embrace them and treat them like equal citizens and give them everything Canada has to  offer," she said.

Earlier this week, the federal government proposed changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program aimed at protecting the rights of foreign workers.

Truscott said she has little hope it will make a difference, because the federal government has failed to make good on similar promises in the past.