Ex-Tim Hortons temporary foreign workers fear deportation after whistleblowing

Two whistleblowers who exposed problems with Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker program are nervously awaiting a government decision on their fate.

Father of 3 from Philippines wants 'better future' for kids in Canada

Jona Pineda alleged in 2013 her boss at the Tim Hortons franchise in Fernie, B.C. agreed to help her apply for permanent residency only if she could get a former employee to drop his complaint with the B.C. Employment Standards Branch. (CBC)

Two whistleblowers who exposed problems with Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker program at a Tim Hortons franchise in Fernie, B.C. are nervously awaiting a government decision on their fate.

Jona and Chris Pineda have applied to stay in Canada with their three children, but may soon be deported to the Philippines after changes they helped to bring to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

"I'm hoping for my family, especially for my kids, to stay here. My kids love Canada," said Chris Pineda.

Chris Pineda said in 2013 his former boss at the Tim Hortons franchise in Fernie, B.C. reduced his hours from 40 hours per week to just 15, forcing him to take other part-time jobs. (CBC)

"We want them to live a peaceful life in safety, to have a way better future here."

The Pinedas have a 12-year-old daughter, a 10-year-old son and a six-month-old baby boy who was born in Canada.

The family now lives in Fort Macleod, Alta. and the parents have found new jobs in the fast-food industry, but their work permits under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program expired in August.

Their current employer won't apply for them to stay under the new program.

Still, they don't regret exposing abuse of foreign workers at the Tim Hortons franchise in Fernie, B.C.

"We feel [it was] worth it that we did it, because it won't stop if we did nothing," said Jona Pineda.

Tim Hortons took control of the franchise in Fernie, B.C. after CBC News exposed complaints from foreign workers. (CBC)

Complaints from the Pinedas and other workers at the Fernie franchise have sparked investigations by the RCMP and Employment Standards Branch at the B.C. Ministry of Labour. Their former employer lost control of two Tim Hortons locations.

Further investigation by the CBC News Go Public team revealed more widespread problems, which prompted a government overhaul of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

The decision from Citizenship and Immigration Canada on the Pinedas' case is expected in coming days.

With files from Bob Keating

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.