Yukon foreign workers say they're exploited
Several nominee program employees say their boss takes back part of their paycheques
Some foreign workers in the Yukon under the nominee program say they're being exploited by their employer.
The Yukon government set up the nominee program to help employers bring foreign workers into the territory to alleviate the labour shortage.
Several people from the Philippines working at Tags convenience store say they're forced to give some of their paycheques back to their boss, Preet Sidhu.
A woman and her sister who arrived in the Yukon last fall say that, contrary to what their contract says, they don't make $13 an hour.
"He told us, when someone ask you 'Does Preet pay you 13 dollars an hour?' you have to say 'yes,'" she said. "And I ask him, why? So you're asking us to lie? And he told me 'yes.'"
The workers say in actuality, they were paid only $10 an hour. They and some other Filipino workers return the difference to Sidhu in cash.
Another Filipino worker and her brother have since quit Tags, but she says before they did, they complained to the Yukon government's nominee program.
"The government said that your verbal words of stating this is not really good evidence, because me and my brother, who knows if we're just making up stories," she said.
The workers said Sidhu also makes them pay for the cost of their airfare — something the employer agrees to shoulder under the nominee program.
"He gave us a cheque, like February, and he said after five or six months, we'll have to return it to him, so we're expecting him to collect it either this month or next month."
The workers who complained to the nominee program say Sidhu threatened to send them back to the Philippines. But they say the government told them they had 90 days to find another job.
All of the workers say they know they're being exploited but they're so desperate to stay in Canada, they've accepted the situation.
Sidhu said he won't comment about any concerns of nominee program workers currently at his store.
Education minister Scott Kent, who is responsible for the nominee program, said the Yukon government will re-open an investigation into the circumstances facing workers at the Tag's store.
He said the department had decided that there wasn't enough evidence from the first two workers who complained but after hearing the workers in this story, Kent said his department can now investigate.
"The fact that there were two new complaints that surfaced in your story is something that gives us enough impetus to reopen the file, to reopen the investigation," he said.
Kent said he will also contact the Yukon Filipino Association to discuss the issue, but said he has no plans for an audit of the nominee program.