THE Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) announced on Tuesday that on October 6, Jatinder Kang and Harlens Trucking Ltd. were sentenced in Surrey Provincial Court.
Kang received a two-year suspended sentence with probation conditions, including the completion of 240 hours of community service within the first 18 months of the order, to keep the peace and be of good behaviour and report to a probation officer.
Harlens Trucking Ltd. received a two-year suspended sentence and a $10,000 fine, and was ordered to pay $352,001.83 in restitution to 29 temporary foreign workers (TFWs).
Harlens Trucking Ltd., based in Surrey, British Columbia, was granted positive Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), which permitted the company to TFWs based on information included in the LMIA applications. Between 2011 and 2014, the company hired 30 TFWs through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Kang was responsible for the company’s operations and hiring.
The CBSA investigated after the Pacific Region Criminal Investigations Section received information two TFWs were not being paid the amount specified in their Offers of Employment, as was required as part of the ESDC approval. The employees were originally offered an hourly wage in their contracts and in compliance with Canadian law; however, once they began their employment, the pay rate was reduced significantly.
Further investigation revealed 29 TFWs were underpaid for work at Harlens Trucking Ltd. and the net amount of underpayment was calculated at $352,001.83.
On June 26, Kang and Harlens Trucking Ltd. pleaded guilty to two counts under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), misrepresentation, and failing to comply with a condition or obligation of the Act, specifically, the requirement to provide TFWs with working conditions that are the same as, but not less favourable than, those set out in the contract.
Now that the court case against Harlens Trucking Ltd. has concluded, ESDC is assessing the evidence to determine required actions. Employers who are found to be violating program rules are subject to serious penalties, including monetary penalties, bans from using the program and having the names of their companies published on a public list.
“Violations of Canada’s immigration laws threaten the integrity of our borders and immigration system. As in this case, when an employer misrepresents information under the IRPA, they can have a direct impact on the individuals who lawfully contribute to the Canadian economy. The CBSA continues to work closely with its partners, including ESDC, to identify, investigate and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law those who abuse Canada’s immigration laws,” said Roslyn H. MacVicar, Regional Director General, Pacific Region, Canada Border Services Agency.
“Our government takes its responsibility to protect the health and safety of temporary foreign workers very seriously. Since coming to office, we have taken a number of important steps to make sure that temporary foreign workers are treated properly, and we will continue working with our partners at the Canada Border Services Agency to ensure that employers who violate the rights of workers face consequences for their actions,” said Patty Hajdu, federal Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour.
· The Temporary Foreign Worker Program contributes to economic growth in Canada by ensuring Canadians and permanent residents continue to have the first opportunity at available jobs, while balancing the labour needs of employers.
· Inspections of employers are not conducted by ESDC during a criminal investigation or ongoing court case so as not to interfere with the legal process.
· ESDC is actively taking measures to improve compliance with the TFW Program by increasing awareness among TFWs of their rights and protections while in Canada and strengthening compliance through increased inspections and penalties.
· The CBSA intercepts illegal activity to help keep Canada and Canadians safe and secure. Anyone with information on suspicious immigration or cross-border activity should call the confidential CBSA Border Watch toll-free line at 1-888-502-9060.
· ESDC operates a confidential tip line at 1-866-602-9448 and an online fraud reporting tool where TFWs or other interested parties are able to anonymously report situations of abuse. All allegations of abuse are reviewed and appropriate action taken.