Employers who were caught illegally hiring foreign workers later received government approval to recruit temporary foreign workers, even though the government claims that a two-year ban is imposed on employers who fall foul of immigration laws.
In Alberta, Empire Drywall pleaded guilty to hiring four foreign workers without authorization in breach of Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and were fined $36,000 in 2011.
But the Edmonton operation received positive Labour Market Opinions (LMOs) to hire TFWs in the following year, according to information received from Minister Jason Kenney’s Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).
“We felt helpless at the time,” said Raylene Loyie of Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, whose husband Jason worked for Empire Drywall at the time but found that TFWs were brought in to do jobs he was slated to do and left the company following injuries and depression in 2012.
“I know the thing that got to him the most was, he was good at what he did, however, the quality of the companies work was going down,” Loyie said. “He refused to sacrifice quality to make more money. In insulating, that would mean chancing pipes bursting etc. He believes the Mandatory Home Owner insurance in Alberta came into effect because of all the corners cut.”
In British Columbia, the owner of the forestry business Meadow Creek Cedar Ltd., now owned by San Group Inc based in Cooper Creek, BC, admitted at an Employment Standards Tribunal hearing that the company illegally employed six seasonal agricultural workers from Mexico at its sawmill in 2012.
But in a bizarre twist, the Lardeau Valley operation argued that since the workers were only authorized to work at the owner Dale Kooner’s farm registered as Can-Pacific Farms Inc, and therefore working at the sawmill illegally, that the company was not required to pay the Mexican workers any money.
The tribunal dismissed the argument as “plain absurd” and ordered the company to pay the Mexican workers $11,000 on top of $38,000 to be paid to the Canadian workers and a further $1,000 dollars in fines.
But Can-Pacific Farms also received positive LMOs to hire TFWs in the following year.
“It goes without saying that a system designed to be abused will be abused by many,” NTFW.CA advisor and journeyman electrician Michael Thomas said. “That our government fails to enforce even the minimal, loophole filled rules they DO apply to the TFW program indicates a strong complicity in the abuses. This means that the Conservative government aids and abets companies in breaking the law, and makes all Canadians by association guilty of creating a slave network that exploits poor working families around the globe.”
“I for one am ashamed and angry,” he added. “It is my responsibility as a citizen to ensure that this program is torn down and that people responsible for it are held accountable.”
“There definitely is a level of immigration needed,” Loyie agreed. “However, this program is nothing short of a way to create slave labor. Not only out of TFWs, but Canadians as well.”
“The program needs to be completely scrapped,” she concluded. “The Corporate welfare needs to stop. Canadians need to be paid a living wage.”