The federal and provincial governments are cracking down on a Saskatchewan hotel chain, following a CBC iTeam investigation into how it treats its temporary foreign workers.
The iTeam told the story of two temporary foreign workers who said their employer, Western Star Inn and Suites, failed to pay them thousands of dollars in overtime and made them work in communities not authorized by the federal government.
Following the story, Ottawa opened an investigation “on an urgent basis.”
Alexandra Fortier, press secretary for Minister of Employment Jason Kenney, wrote in an email to CBC: “Employment and Social Development Canada has contacted the employer today to determine the facts.”
Saskatchewan Minister of the Economy Bill Boyd told CBC Western Star has been suspended from using the Temporary Foreign Workers Program in Saskatchewan.
“There has been a file open on this situation and at an appropriate time actions will be taken,” Boyd said.
Both levels of government have the authority to level punishments such as fines, suspensions, and even jail time.
Boyd said the provincial government was made aware of potential abuses at Western Star hotels in March 2014, and began an investigation then.
“If the workers complaints are substantiated at least to the point of satisfying the integrity unit, then there’s other investigations taken at that point which may include contacting the employer.”
Boyd said that in the case of Western Star, the employer has been contacted by ministry officials. He also said Ottawa has been informed of the province’s investigation.
A follow-up email from the provincial government states: “We cannot release details of current investigations, however, Saskatchewan’s contact in Employment and Service Development Canada on TFWP issues is in the western Canadian region, not Ottawa.”
There is no timeline for when the investigations will be completed.