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Newspaper article

Three Edmonton employers face charges under Immigration and Refugee Act

Date

2013-01-24

Authors

Jodie Sinnema

Newspaper title

Edmonton Journal

Full text

Three Edmonton employers have been charged under the Immigration and Refugee Act after they hired two Filipino workers from Israel, then gave them lower-wage jobs than promised before firing them.

The investigation involved two Filipino men in their 30s who came to Canada from Israel to work at a local coffee shop in Edmonton under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. The plan was for the men to send money back home to their families in the Philippines, said Const. Neal Jespersen, one of the case investigators with the RCMP immigration and passport section in Calgary.

When the two workers arrived in Edmonton to start work in January 2010, their new employers told them the prearranged jobs at the coffee shop were no longer available and they would work instead at a Marble Slab Creamery location for less money. Jespersen said the pay at both places was around minimum wage, which sat at $9.40 an hour prior to an increase in September 2012.

The two men were threatened with deportation if they complained to government officials that their terms of employment were different from the original arrangement, RCMP say.

Jespersen said the employer took advantage of the language barrier to abuse the situation. The two workers speak Tagalog, the official language of the Philippines.

The workers took their concerns to Edmonton police four months later, around the same time they were fired. The police alerted RCMP.

Immigration then stepped in to help the two workers find other work in Alberta.

Yassin Hamdom, 45, and Wendy Sawa, both directors of the Marble Slab Creamery, and Ahmed Baalbaki, 36, owner/operator of the undisclosed coffee shop, were charged with unauthorized employment of a foreign national, counselling misrepresentation and a counselling offence. All are scheduled to appear in provincial court Feb. 19.

The alleged offences took place in the first six months of 2010, court records show.

“The RCMP is committed to dealing with this type of situation, whether they are international or domestic,” said Jespersen, who wouldn’t release the specific addresses of the businesses involved in this case because the locations may face threats. He said both the Marble Slab and the coffee shop are open for business.

“This is another example of exploited innocent people who want to make a life for themselves and come to work to Canada from abroad,” said RCMP Staff Sgt. Jim Gamlin of the immigration and passport section in Calgary.

File Attachments

Economic sectors

Food and beverage servers and Food counter attendants, kitchen helpers and related support occupations

Content types

Documented cases of abuse

Target groups

Public awareness

Geographical focuses

Alberta

Spheres of activity

Management of human resources

Languages

English