Kitchener-Waterloo

Erwin Hymer employee laid off days before finishing permanent residency application

Emilio Carro was in the process of applying for permanent residence as a foreign worker for Erwin Hymer Group North America, when the Cambridge RV company filed for receivership and terminated all of its employees in February.

Emilio Carro was applying for permanent residence when Cambridge RV company filed for receivership

Emilio Carro, a former Erwin Hymer Group North America employee, is worried his family may have to return to Spain after living in Canada for more than six years. (Robin De Angelis/CBC)

Emilio Carro was just days away from finalizing his application to become a permanent Canadian resident when his life suddenly changed.

Carro is one of more than 800 employees of Erwin Hymer Group North America (EHGNA) who were suddenly terminated after the Cambridge RV company filed for receivership on Feb. 15.

Now, after living and working in Canada for more than six years, Carro is worried about his family's future in the country.

Carro came to Canada from Spain, and has been living Canada on a work permit. He was in the process of applying for permanent residence through the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program as a foreign worker for EHGNA, when the company suddenly closed its doors.

"It seems that automatically everything is like, 'Okay, the provincial nomination is gone, your work permit is gone,'" he told CBC News.

Carro said he is now working with an immigration lawyer in Toronto to find out if the provincial nomination program will grant him a grace period.

In the meantime, he can't get a new job to support his family because his work permit is tied to EHGNA.

In a video posted to YouTube, Erwin Hymer Group North America included this shot of the recreational vehicles it manufactures. Carro was hired as a video production coordinator for the company last year. (YouTube)

'It's really hard to find a job as it is'

Jennifer Roggemann, an immigration lawyer based in Kitchener, said there are two types of permits for temporary workers in Canada.

An open permit allows someone to work for any employer and in any province, while a closed permit is tied to a specific employer, job and location.

When someone with a closed permit loses their job, they can still live in Canada temporarily, but they cannot simply find a new job.

"It will give him a temporary status in Canada, to remain in Canada, but he is not able to work anywhere else," Roggemann explained.

"So it doesn't automatically convert to an open work permit where he can work for anybody."

Roggemann said that means starting from scratch, finding a new employer and applying for a new work permit.

For Carro, finding an employer that is willing to meet the requirements of the provincial nomination program is an added challenge.

"It's really hard to find a job as it is, but it's got to be even worse to say to someone, 'Hire me, but you have to do all of this. Are you okay with it?'"

'Finally you see the light'

Carro said the past few weeks have been very hard for his family, who have worked hard to stay in Canada over the last six years.

"When we first came here, I went to university for three years and that has put a lot of stress on us already," he said.

"It's not easy, but we keep pushing forward and we got to this point where last year I got this job and it was like, okay, finally you see the light."

Carro said if his family does have to leave Canada and return to Spain, they will have to start from square one, to find new work and rebuild their savings.

"We will go, I think, worse than we came," he said.

Kitchener, Cambridge open 'support hubs'

Meanwhile, the cities of Kitchener and Cambridge are setting up "Erwin Hymer Employment Support Hubs" to help the more than 800 people laid off.

The hubs will officially open next week between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. at Kitchener City Hall on Monday and Wednesdays, and at Grand Innovations in Cambridge on Tuesday and Thursdays.

People will be able to get help applying for employment assistance, creating resumes and job matching.

Career services, Conestoga College, Anishnabeg Outreach and other groups will be available for drop-in appointments.

Cambridge and Kitchener will also hold a job fair on March 7, with help from the Workforce Planning Board.

About the Author

Robin De Angelis is a multimedia journalist based in southwestern Ontario. She has previously worked as a reporter covering local news in Sudbury. Get in touch on Twitter @RobinElizabethD or by email robin.deangelis@cbc.ca

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