Go Public got results in 2013

Several CBC Go Public investigative stories in 2013 made a significant difference for the people featured. Each of the stories originated from people who wrote in seeking accountability from the powers that be.

RBC reversal on replacing staff with foreign workers among highlights

RBC reversal on replacing staff with foreign workers among highlights 2:17

Several CBC Go Public investigative stories in 2013 made a significant difference for the people featured. Each of the stories originated from people who wrote in seeking accountability from the powers that be.

At the top of the list was the story Go Public broke about RBC laying off some of its staff and replacing them with temporary foreign workers from an Indian-based company called I-Gate.

That story was initiated by Dave Moreau, an RBC employee who wrote a brief email to Go Public in the spring. He said he was losing his job and was being asked to train a foreign worker as his replacement. He asked one simple question: "Is this legal?"

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Go Public then confirmed RBC was laying off some four dozen information technology workers, in the same scenario Moreau had described. Their department was being taken over by I-Gate, which RBC had contracted to do IT work.

I-Gate has brought hundreds of temporary foreign workers into Canada in recent years, to provide training and do work for large companies like RBC.

Go Public asked the immigration minister at the time, Jason Kenney, if companies such as RBC were allowed to use temporary foreign workers to replace laid-off Canadians.

Kenney told us it was against the rules for any employer to bring in temporary foreign workers, if even one Canadian worker would be displaced as a result.

Overwhelming responses

Longtime resident Gerd Nitzek told Go Public Citizenship and Immigration was forcing him to wait three years to become a Canadian. He was sworn in as a citizen a month after the story aired. (CBC)
After Dave Moreau's story was published, with Kenney's comments, the response from readers was overwhelming.

Dozens of other IT workers, from all the major banks and other large Canadian companies, wrote in to say essentially the same thing was happening to them — that temporary foreign workers were taking over work from Canadian staff or contractors.

Go Public received thousands of emails on the story. Media outlets across the country picked it up, sparking a national debate that raged for days.

Four days after our initial story aired, RBC took out full-page ads in national newspapers, apologizing for how it had treated Moreau and other staff and promising they would not lose their jobs after all.

Moreau is still working at RBC. He wrote to Go Public recently, joking that he will likely be there until he dies.

The federal government has since made it harder for companies to bring in temporary foreign workers, by raising fees and tightening rules.

Go Public still receives emails, however, from people in various industries who claim Canadians are still being displaced by foreign workers. Unlike Moreau, most write anonymously, suggesting they are too scared to speak out.

Government delays also fixed 

Dallas Diamond credits Go Public with helping to push the health authority to move her mom into a long-term care facility in Calgary. The elderly woman had been waiting in acute care for a year, but was moved the week the story aired. (CBC)
Several other Go Public stories resulted in positive changes for the people involved, albeit without the huge reaction the RBC story generated.

Gerd Nitzek was one of the people whose situation changed dramatically after Go Public got involved. Nitzek has lived in West Vancouver for decades, married to a Canadian.

However, for seemingly trivial bureaucratic reasons, he was being told he had to wait three years to become a Canadian citizen. Nitzek and his wife are retired, and he wanted to travel with a Canadian passport. He'd already waited for months in a government backlog, so he wrote to Go Public in frustration.

As a result of our story in October, Nitzek's file was pulled and, just a month later, he was sworn in as a Canadian citizen. 

Dallas Diamond also credits Go Public with helping to make a significant change in her mom's life. Margaret Diamond has dementia and had spent the last year in acute care hospitals in Calgary, waiting for a long-term care bed.
Patrick MacDonald, who lost his wife to cancer, had been battling Scotiabank for years over a mixup with her RSP transfer, that resulted in a huge tax bill. After he told his story to Go Public, the bank offered him $37,000, to make up for its mistakes. (CBC)

Five days after we started making calls on her story, the health authority moved her mom to a facility for dementia patients. Diamond said her mom is settling in nicely and is much more comfortable in her new home.

In those cases, government made changes. However, there were other stories where large companies made changes after Go Public stories aired.

Scotiabank, Shaw stepped up

One of those was Scotiabank, which stepped up to help Patrick MacDonald. He'd been left to raise five children after his wife died of cancer. He'd also been battling the bank for years.

Scotiabank was supposed to roll his deceased wife's RRSP into his, but it made several mistakes in that transaction, including missing a crucial tax deadline that left MacDonald with a $35,000 tax bill.  

After we contacted the bank about his case, it offered him $37,000 to make up for that mistake.

Shaw Communications also made a significant change for some of its staff after former Shaw workers Rob Brownridge and Tasha Lowe came forward to Go Public.
Shaw Communications was paying several of its workers as contractors, despite federal rulings indicating they should be employees. After Go Public aired the story, the communications giant offered several contractors positions as employees. (CBC)

They worked as contractors for Shaw, but had filed complaints with the federal authorities, because they believed legally they should have been paid as employees. The federal regulator agreed, but Shaw continued to pay several of its current workers as contractors.

After our story aired, Shaw workers told us the company offered all of them jobs as employees, if they wanted that, and many of them took the offer.

Some promises undelivered

Not all of the Go Public stories get results, however. In some cases, organizations promise results but then don't deliver.

One example of that was the story brought to us by Sandra and Lisa Adamson. A drug user had used their identities for several months to get doctors to write prescriptions for oxycodone, which were then filled at various B.C. pharmacies.

When the story aired, B.C's College of Pharmacists promised a robust investigation.

That was in September, and Sandra Adamson reports she's heard nothing from the college since. When Go Public asked the regulator what was happening, we were told action is being taken.

Adamson doesn't understand why she hasn't heard anything, since she was the main complainant.

Go Public's objective for 2014 is to continue trying to get results for people who have experienced significant problems or injustices, by holding government or private companies accountable.

Submit your story ideas to Kathy Tomlinson at Go Public

Follow @CBCGoPublic on Twitter


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