Taxi company closures leave foreign workers scrambling
7 cab companies in Whitehorse out of business
With seven cab companies in Whitehorse out of business — all owned by the same person — some foreign workers have been left scrambling to find new jobs in order to stay in the territory.
When the cab company he worked for stopped operating a couple of weeks ago, AndrasRuszalobwas in a bind.
"I had a lot of regular customers and I love the people here," he said. "I love to work and to just one day stop and just be stuck at home — and just sitting home and wait, wait, wait, it's very, very frustrating."
I had a lot of regular customers and I love the people here.- Andras Ruszalob, taxi driver
He says the news of the shutdowns came out of the blue and he was told only that there were financial problems with the cab company.
Although his boss Rob Simard owns seven taxi companies lately he's only had permits to operate six vehicles.
For some of the drivers like Ruszalob, the situation has been complicated. He's in the territory on a temporary work visa with the Yukon Nominee program.
Since his employment has come to an end he has 90 days to find work and apply to the government to change his papers.
90 days to find work
With the help of Ken Giam, owner of Premier Cabs and Grizzley Bear Taxi, he and two other nominees filed an appeal yesterday to stay and work in the territory.
"Since the company closed down, they have come to us and we are agreeable to hire them as taxi drivers," said Giam.
Shawn Kitchen of the Yukon Government, Department of Education says the paperwork can go through quickly.
"We try to expedite it, knowing that the nominee is in an awkward position in terms of needing to find quick employment," he said. "They're laid off, they're often working in the service sector not making a lot of money so we understand there's a lot of pressure on them to try and find employment quickly."
In less than 24 hours the Yukon government approved Ruszalob's request to work for another taxi company. He says he's grateful for this second chance.
"I was really speechless," he said. "The first moment, I couldn't believe. It's very difficult to put into words."
The foreign workers now have to get their new documents stamped by Immigration Canada and they expect to be back on the job this week.