News Release April 6, 2017: BC groups call on province to curb abuse in recruitment of temporary foreign workers

News Release – BC groups call on province to curb abuse in recruitment of temporary foreign workers

Vancouver, BC (April 6, 2017) – Today, a coalition of organizations in British Columbia is calling on the provincial government to take action to stop the abuse of temporary foreign workers.

To date, 37 organizations have signed on to an open letter to Labour Minister Shirley Bond demanding that the province do more to protect temporary foreign workers from exploitation by recruiters and employers in the province. Temporary foreign workers in BC are routinely charged thousands of dollars in illegal recruitment fees, and workers often go into debt to pay these fees. The combination of high debt, low pay, and temporary immigration status makes workers very vulnerable to abuse.

The coalition will deliver the open letter to the office of Labour Minister Shirley Bond today.

The open letter calls for enhanced licensing of recruitment agencies, proactive investigation of workplaces, and access to information and advocacy for workers. The coalition says a strong and proactive regime is needed because temporary foreign workers face barriers to reporting abuse. Most temporary foreign workers can only work for a specific employer under closed work permits, so they cannot complain about abuse without risking their job security and future in Canada.

The open letter is part of a campaign organized by Rising Up Against Unjust Recruitment, a coalition of organizations and individuals concerned about the abuse of temporary foreign workers. They say that the province is not doing enough to protect these workers.

“It’s time for the province to act. BC is lagging behind other provinces which have recognized that temporary foreign workers are particularly vulnerable and have taken steps to protect them from exploitative recruitment practices, such as charging fees for jobs and promising jobs that do not exist,” says Natalie Drolet, Executive Director and staff lawyer with West Coast Domestic Workers Association, a member of the coalition.

“The changes we are asking for would bring BC in line with other provinces such as Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and would provide temporary foreign workers in this province with meaningful protection from exploitation by recruiters and employers,” Drolet explains.

More information about the campaign, including a petition, can be found at risingup.ca.

For more information, please contact Natalie Drolet at 604-669-6452 or Erie Maestro at 604-366-7218.

Press Release 2016: Campaign Against Unjust Recruitment Fees

Press Release
December 16, 2016

TFWs and advocates mount campaign against unjust recruitment fees

Vancouver – A group of Temporary Foreign Workers and their advocates held a press conference today to launch a new campaign that will address the widespread problem of illegal recruitment fees being charged to TFWs for jobs in BC.

The campaign, “Rising Up Against Recruitment”, aims to protect and promote the rights of TFWs by raising awareness about the problem and offering recommendations to the BC government.

“TFWs provide care for families and they help the economy grow. Yet many are routinely charged exorbitant fees for jobs in BC that sometimes do not exist. The fees violate the Employment Standards Act and to pay them, TFWs and their families often incur debts with high interest rates from money lenders,” says the West Coast Domestic Workers Association’s Resochita Arma.

She added that despite laws prohibiting these fees, inadequate oversight and enforcement along with a 6 month limitation period to file a complaint with the Employment Standards Branch (ESB) means that many TFWs are unable to recover the fees they paid.

In response, the Rising Up Against Recruitment campaign calls on the provincial government to: enact new legislation to protect foreign workers; implement a pro-active enforcement regime; and provide access to information and advocacy.

A lawyer working with TFWs who has filed a class-action suit against their recruitment agencies and Mac’s Convenience Stores says the “changes advocated by the campaign are urgently needed.”

Kirby Smith says that the ESB’s “current complaint-driven model does not empower active investigation of suspect recruiters and employers” and that “without increased penalties and shared liability between employer and recruiters, exploitative employer and recruiter behaviour is unlikely to change.”

MLA Mable Elmore, the Opposition Spokesperson for TFWs and Immigration agrees that more has to be done provincially to help protect TFWs and all workers.

“For too long, Premier Christy Clark and the BC Liberal government have failed to take action on this issue. And their inaction has allowed for the continuation of this unjust practice. TFWs are often bound to their employers and are vulnerable to exploitation. Most provinces have already enacted legislation to address this issue,” she said.

More information about the campaign, including their petition, is at risingup.ca.

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For more information, please contact Natalie Drolet, Rising Up Against Unjust Recruitment Coalition, email natalie@wcdwa.ca or at 604-669-6452.

Media Advisory 2016: No Fees for Jobs

Media Advisory December 2016: No Fees for Jobs

MEDIA ADVISORY

For more information, contact Natalie Drolet, Rising Up Against Unjust Recruitment, at 604-669-6452.

“No fees for jobs” – says new campaign against widespread practice of fees charged to TFWs for jobs in BC

In violation of the Employment Standards Act, Temporary Foreign Workers are often charged thousands of dollars for jobs in BC that sometimes do not even exist.

To address this rampant practice, TFWs and their advocates will hold a press conference tomorrow morning to announce details of their new campaign “Rising Up Against Recruitment”.

Speakers will include a TFW who paid $15,000 for a truck driving job in BC that was supposed to pay him $23 per hour and give him a 50 hour work week. Instead, he worked several months either without pay or at minimum wage.

WHEN: 11am Friday December 16, 2016
WHERE: West Coast Domestic Workers Association, 119 W. Pender St, Suite 302, Vancouver
WHO: Richard Eugenio, Temporary Foreign Worker
Kirby Smith, Lawyer representing TFWs in a possible class-action suit against their recruitment agency & Mac’s Convenience Stores
Mable Elmore, MLA Vancouver-Kensington and New Democrat spokesperson on Immigration and Temporary Foreign Workers
Resochita Arma, West Coast Domestic Workers’ Association
Alexandra Rodgers, SFU Graduate Student