Nfld. & Labrador

Tina Olivero steps down as candidate after CBC questions about unpaid wages to Filipina nanny

Tina Olivero has quit as a PC candidate after being asked by CBC News about a Labour Relations Agency decision last year ordering her to pay more than $23,000 to her former Filipina nanny.

Dispute was subject of labour standards complaint that was resolved in 2014

Tina Olivero has stepped down as the PC candidate in St. John's East-Quidi Vidi, following questions from CBC News about unpaid wages to her Filipina nanny. (Twitter)

Tina Olivero has quit as the Progressive Conservative candidate for St. John's East-Quidi Vidi after being asked by CBC News about a Labour Relations Agency decision last year ordering her to pay more than $23,000 to her former Filipina nanny.

The agency found that Olivero had deducted too much money from the employee's wages for living expenses.

"Today I was emailed by a reporter who has gone through my past with the hopes of discrediting me and plans to release his findings tomorrow," Olivero said in a Facebook post that went online after 11 p.m. Thursday.

"This is the indicator that the environment for leadership in public service needs an entire new structure when it comes to media."

In her resignation note on Facebook, Olivero said "I am not prepared to be held hostage by any media." By 9 a.m. Friday, Olivero had deleted her Twitter account.

Earlier Thursday, CBC News had contacted her for comment about the situation involving her former nanny.

I am not prepared to be held hostage by any media.- Tina Olivero

According to documents obtained by CBC News, Olivero tried to hire Jolan Watawat as a live-in caregiver in Newfoundland back in 2010, but was unsuccessful in getting the required work permit. 

Watawat had previously been employed for Olivero in a similar role in the Middle East.

Olivero's company, Publishing World Inc., then sought and received the green light in April 2011 to hire Watawat as a personal assistant, under a provincial government program aimed at recruiting skilled foreign workers.

But while her job description involved work for Olivero's company, Watawat said in her labour standards complaint that her daily schedule involved providing care for the children, doing laundry and cooking, shovelling snow in the winter, and drying and ironing Olivero's hair.

In documents obtained by CBC News, Olivero denied that she ordered Watawat to do her hair, noting that "it was fun and she liked doing it."

In fact, Olivero claimed that much of the domestic work was Watawat's way of avoiding her duties at Olivero's oil and gas industry magazine.

But the Labour Relations Agency sided with Watawat's description of her job duties.

"The preponderance of evidence gathered, including conversations with the parties and copies of emails between Ms. Watawat and Ms. Olivero, supports Ms. Watawat's declaration of the nature of her work," the labour standards determination, dated May 13, 2014, notes.

Nanny was paid $400 a month in cash 

Watawat told the labour board that she was hired at an hourly salary of $10.50 per hour, for a 40-hour work.

That's a salary of about $1,680 per month.

Watawat said the actual compensation she received was much less — $400 in cash per month, which works out to $20 per workday.

It was bumped to $500 per month not long before Watawat quit in early 2013 and filed the labour standards complaint.

Watawat received a total of $8,800 in cash payments for 22 months work.

Olivero applied the rest of her paycheque to her living expenses — even though the labour standards review determined that, by law, she could only deduct $220 per month under this arrangement.

That $220 limit applied to nearly all of the time period Watawat worked in Newfoundland for Olivero.

Ordered to pay $23,571

The Labour Relations Agency found that Olivero had violated several sections of the Labour Standards Act.

The agency found that she owed Watawat $31,822 in outstanding wages, less $8,251 in acceptable deductions for room and board, the cost of a plane ticket from the United Arab Emirates to Canada, a computer, immigration fees, and for not giving proper notice when she quit.

Olivero was directed to pay Watawat $23,571.

Olivero sent that decision to the relevant appeal body, the Labour Relations Board, for review.

But the board also rejected her arguments and confirmed the payment to Watawat.

Watawat told CBC News Friday afternoon that she has received the money.

PC leader reacts

Progressive Conservative Leader Paul Davis says he did not know about the situation involving Olivero and her Filipina nanny until it was raised by CBC News.

Asked about the vetting process for candidates, Davis said: "The work that we do with candidates is identifying what we know about them, and their records and so on. I haven't made it a habit to dig into people's personal background and lives in that kind of depth. We work to seek the best candidates that we can secure."

Ms. Olivero made her decision, we've turned the page, and we're moving forward.- PC Leader Paul Davis

Davis says it was Olivero's choice to step down as a candidate.

"Ms. Olivero made her decision, we've turned the page, and we're moving forward," Davis told reporters Friday.

Earlier in the week, Davis had to address comments made by Olivero on Twitter, about her beliefs that self-awareness can trump medical treatment in curing disease.

"There are varying views on health care and treatments and how those things happen, and I think we live in a society where we should invite those conversations and allow people to exchange their viewpoints and she has done that," Davis said Wednesday.

Facebook post deleted

On Friday, Olivero deleted a post she placed on her Facebook page Thursday night announcing her resignation as candidate. Read most of the text from that post in the screengrab below.

Most of the text from Tina Olivero's Facebook post Thursday night. (Facebook)

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