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Temporary foreign worker stuck picking bottles in Fort Macleod

Date

2015-09-15

Authors

CBC News Calgary

Periodical title

CBC News Calgary

Full text

Myla Nahe says her contract was violated at local hotel and when she complained, she was fired

Bottle picking isn't what Myla Nahe had in mind when she came to Canada to find work to support her family in Philippines, but it's her only source of income these days.

Fort Motel in Fort Macleod
The Fort Motel in Fort Macleod, Myla Nahe's place of employment for 11 months. (Allison Dempster/CBC)

About a year and a half ago, Nahe started work as a maid at a hotel in Fort Macleod, about 170 kilometres south of Calgary.

The contract said she'd be working 40 hours per week, at $12.75 an hour, with a return flight home. But she says she sometimes got just 10 to 15 hours a week.

"He only give me like two hours a day sometimes," she said. She has two daughters, aged 9 and 18, back home who are depending on her income.

"I was a bit scared that I can't send money back home during that time."

Fired

Nahe says about 11 months into the contract she had a falling out with the owner over pay. She says he fired her soon after.

Hotel owner, Kiran Patel, declined an interview with CBC News.

In Nahe's letter of dismissal he cites "subordination issues" and says her housekeeping was not up to required standards.

Now Nahe has no plane ticket home, and no legal right to work in Canada unless another employer hires her as a temporary foreign worker.

The United Steelworkers union has helped Nahe file a complaint to the tip line Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) set up for temporary foreign workers last year.

"When they come to Canada, they should be treated fairly," said Troy Cook, a labour activist with USW 9346, based in Sparwood, B.C..

"There's no need for it. She should be able to go find another job or, you know, we should have some sort of agency showing up here to make it right," he said. "Watching people scraping by, it's not cool."

Nahe's work permit expires in January.

"All I want is at least to stay here and find a good employer to help me," she said.

Wheels of justice

Calgary immigration lawyer Raj Sharma says she could be in for a wait.

"She's hoping for justice, and unfortunately the wheels of justice grind very slowly for temporary foreign workers in Canada."

Since the launch of the tip line in April 2014, ESDC has received more than 3,000 complaints about alleged violations of the conditions of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

ESDC said in a written statement it takes allegations of abuse very seriously and investigates each one vigorously.

File Attachments

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Content types

Documented cases of abuse

Target groups

(Im)migrants workers

Geographical focuses

United States, México, Quebec, Other provinces, America - South, Asia, China, Jamaica, Philippines, Colombia, Equator, Bangladesh, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Peru, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, Malaysia, Regional relevance, Regional relevance, Regional relevance, and Cambodia

Languages

English