An Edmonton lawyer says the fine paid by a company convicted of immigration fraud should go to the Polish workers who were illegally brought to Canada seven years ago, not to a northern Alberta college.
Earlier this week, Kihew Energy Services, a company co-owned by Ukrainian Orthodox priest John Lipinski, pleaded guilty to one count under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
The judge fined the company $215,000, which is to be used for foreign worker training at Lakeland College.
But Sol Rolingher, the lawyer representing 30 of the workers, believes the college should not accept the cash.
"I think most Canadians would say that money should go to the people who suffered and the ones who suffered were the welders who weren't being paid properly, who were misguided, misdirected, misrepresented with the true facts of what happened," he said.
The court found that Kihew brought the welders and machinists to Alberta on student visas, which were issued after a Lakeland College employee sent letters accepting them as students to Canadian immigration.
While some workers took ESL classes at the college, none of them attended the welding classes that the visas were issued for. According to the agreed statement of facts, the workers believed they were coming to Canada for work, not full-time study.
Kinhew contracted the workers to firms for $24 an hour, while only paying them between $10 and $12 an hour. The student visas prohibited the men from working in Canada.
When contacted by CBC News, Lakeland College president Glenn Charlesworth said he wasn't aware of Rollinger's idea. However, he says the college plans to keep the money.