B.C.: MacDonald’s Under Attack For Use of Temporary Foreign Workers

Update:

McDonald's has come under attack for its hiring practices.
McDonald’s has come under attack for its hiring practices. Seventy five percent of McDonald’s outlets in Canada are owned by franchisees.

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The federal investigation into McDonald’s use of temporary foreign workers has widened to several other locations, as more local workers speak out about feeling sidelined and shortchanged.

“I feel it’s definitely discrimination against Canadians,” said Chris Eldridge, from Lethbridge, Alta.

Eldridge just quit his managerial job for six McDonald’s locations in Alberta, because he said he could no longer stomach denying local employees much-needed shifts to accommodate temporary foreign workers.

“Honestly, some days I wonder, is this still Canada? Everyone is supposed to have equal rights.”

Chris Eldridge

Former McDonald’s manager Chris Eldridge did employee schedules for six franchise locations in Lethbridge. He said he was told to give full time shifts first to the foreign workers, who he said were paid more than locals, too. (CBC)

Eldridge was a manager who did the worker scheduling for McDonald’s franchisee Dan Brown. He’s also upset about differences in pay. Many foreign workers started at $10.80 an hour, he said, while local employees doing the same job made less.

Federal rules stipulate that foreign workers coming in to Lethbridge as food service attendants must make at least the “prevailing wage” of $10.41. However, immigration lawyers told Go Public local employees doing the same job are not supposed to be paid less or lose hours as a result.

“I was instructed to ensure, based on the contracts the foreign workers had signed, that they would be guaranteed full-time hours, no questions asked,” said Eldridge, who said that meant he had to shortchange Canadian employees.

Federal investigators dispatched

As a result of our inquiries, Employment Minister Jason Kenney’s office said the “urgent investigation” launched last week after Go Public’s story about a Victoria McDonald’s franchise has been expanded.

“Minister Kenney has expressed strong concerns about the potential abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to the head of human resources at McDonalds’ head office,” said a spokesperson from the minister’s office.

The minister’s office said franchises in Lethbridge and Parksville B.C. have been barred from applying to bring in any more temporary foreign workers, pending the outcome of the investigation.

“As soon as we became aware of these allegations, officials were directed to begin an urgent and immediate investigation. These cases are being investigated as urgently as the previous case in Victoria, including inspectors being dispatched,” said Kenney’s office.

 

McDonalds Lethbridge

The Lethbridge location is owned by Dan Brown, who said he has 90 temporary foreign workers in his eight Alberta locations. (CBC)

The minister’s office said those additional franchisees have not been put on the department’s blacklist, however, only because they don’t have any current applications in the works.

“I was told [foreign workers] have better flexibility, they’re willing to do whatever they’re asked,” said Eldridge. “Because they were these amazing workers, they were given these [better] shifts.”

Brown owns six Alberta fast food outlets in Lethbridge, one in Pincher Creek and one in Taber. He confirmed he has 90 temporary foreign workers on staff.

He denies telling Eldridge to cut local employee hours. However, Eldridge said his instructions came from other managers, who said they were speaking on Brown’s behalf. He said some local employees didn’t get enough work to pay their rent.

“I was constantly having that guilt on my chest, because I could be the reason someone might lose the place that they’re living in.”

Brown confirmed part-time local staffers make $9.95 per hour – less than the foreign workers — but he said full-timers are paid equally. He said full-time hours are now split evenly between local and foreign staff.

“I provide people with an opportunity to live and work in Canada and contribute to the Canadian economy,” Brown said. “Temporary foreign workers in my restaurants are very grateful for the opportunity.”

Foreigners live in ‘compound’

Eldridge said the foreign workers were recruited from Belize, the Philippines and Jamaica by Actyl Group, an international recruiter used by McDonald’s Canada. It charges employers up to $2,000 per worker it recruits.

Actyl’s job website is designed to attract foreign workers. It lists numerous ads for full-time jobs at McDonald’s. They all suggest Canadians can apply, but only for part-time work.

McDonalds housing complex

This housing complex in Lethbridge is referred to as ‘the compound.’ Local McDonald’s employees said up to eight foreign workers live in each suite and they pay the franchise owner $400 per month each for rent. (CBC)

“The selected candidate is expected to work 40 hours per week with the possibility of overtime. Part-time applications from Canadians or people in Canada with their PR are also accepted,” the ads read.

Many of the open jobs currently on the Actyl site are not advertised on popular Canadian jobs sites like Kijiji. Linda West of Actyl said that is because those McDonald’s locations already have government approvals to hire foreign workers.

“We never give up on trying to recruit Canadians,” West said. “We have had adverts up for over a year without Canadians applying.”

Eldridge said Brown houses the foreign workers in an apartment building with six to eight employees per unit, and deducts approximately $400 a month from each worker’s pay for rent.

“It’s a big apartment complex, but everyone calls it ‘the compound.’ It’s so enclosed and overpacked in a lot of ways,” said Eldridge.

Go Public asked Brown if he is also the foreign workers’ landlord, but he didn’t answer.

Emily Bryce, who still works at one of his outlets, said she believes the foreigners are exploited because many are professionals by trade and leave their children behind for a chance to live in Canada.

“My Canada isn’t one where you force people to choose between their job and their family. They should be taking full families in and giving them citizenship,” said Bryce.

The whole [foreign worker] program is unjust and it has too many loopholes in it for franchisee owners to exploit them.”

Locals feel marginalized nationwide

Go Public received complaints from McDonald’s workers in other B.C. and Alberta locations, too, as well as Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland.

“The whole time I have worked at the local McDonald’s there has been nothing but favouritism towards the Filipinos,” said a worker in New Brunswick. “Any Canadian that works here feels that if they were to complain it would be viewed racist, but it is a serious problem.”

Christina Morrow

Christina Morrow worked at a Parksville, B.C., McDonald’s franchise for 24 years, but said she was pushed out when temporary foreign workers were brought in. (CBC)

“I’ve seen countless [local] people turned down [for] the chance to even submit resumes, or have the chance of their resumes to be looked at, before they enter the trash,” said an employee from a B.C. location.

An insider from Edmonton wrote, “Being a former general manager for McDonald’s, I can tell you on the franchisee side of the business this is the preferred hiring method…There are numerous other franchisees in the system that will exclude hiring Canadians first.”

Seventy five percent of McDonald’s outlets in Canada are owned by franchisees.

A former assistant manager from a McDonald’s in Parksville, B.C., who was there for 24 years, said she was effectively pushed out the door in favour of workers from the Philippines.

“All those of us who have left, you know, for sure have all felt pushed out,” said 52-year-old Christina Morrow. “It was reverse discrimination.”

Her former boss, Jamie Johannesen, owns four area franchises. Morrow said he brought in 20 foreign workers when he bought the Parksville location three years ago.

Filipinos ‘better workers’

“He said they were better workers…so I would have to cut [local employee] hours to give these people 40 hours.”

Morrow said her work was criticized for the first time in two decades and her pay was cut from $18 to $11 an hour.

“It felt like a knife in my heart, she said. I’d been there 24 years…a lifetime to devote your flesh and blood to a position like that but obviously I wasn’t wanted anymore.”

She quit a year ago, because she says she couldn’t handle the pay cut.

Brayden Chamberlain

Brayden Chamberlain quit his job at McDonald’s in Parksville, because he said his hours were cut so much his job wasn’t worth keeping. (CBC)

“I would say the foreign workers were definitely favoured in almost every aspect,” said 19-year-old Brayden Chamberlain, who worked at the same McDonald’s for three years.

He quit last spring, because he said his hours had been cut so much it wasn’t worth working there anymore. He said some of the Filipinos had management roles, which made local workers feel marginalized.

“They treat you a lot differently.  You’re the minority of the company and you almost end up
feeling exiled, which is why I ended up quitting,” he said. “If you are not Filipino, you have no place there.”

The owner, Johannesen, did not respond to requests for comment.

Go Public asked McDonald’s Canada for comment on this story, but the company said it needed more time to investigate.

Corporate McDonald’s responding

“We have begun the process of undertaking a comprehensive review, working closely with external advisers, of all our restaurants – franchised and corporate-owned – across Canada that employ temporary foreign workers,” said McDonald’s Canada spokesperson Richard Ellis.

McDonalds Sign

McDonald’s Canada said it is now doing a comprehensive review of all locations that use temporary foreign workers as a result of Go Public’s reporting. (CBC)

“As you will appreciate, it will take a significant amount of time to do this right.”

The company said earlier it has 3,400 temporary foreign workers in its 1,400 locations and it abides by all the rules of the federal program.

NDP employment critic Jinny Sims is calling for an emergency debate in Parliament and said the government should now suspend all temporary foreign worker permits for fast-food outlets.

“I believe this is an emergency,” said Sims. “This is creating unnecessary tension and the minister cannot wash his hands of this…his government is allowing this program to be abused.”

Man Wants To “Sleep It Off” In Police Station and Get His Wish Along With Impaired Driving Charges

Update:

York Regional Police allege the 30-year-old Aurora, Ont., man drove drunk to one of their stations Monday, then demanded a place to stay overnight. After he was tested and police determined he was impaired as he drove into their police station, he was arrested, charged with impaired driving and was able to sleep it off in a police lock-up over night.
York Regional Police allege the 30-year-old Aurora, Ont., man drove drunk to one of their stations Monday, then demanded a place to stay overnight. After he was tested and police determined he was impaired as he drove into their police station, he was arrested, charged with impaired driving and was able to sleep it off in a police lock-up over night.

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If Vadym Gulenko was looking for a place to sleep for the night, he certainly got it.

York Regional Police allege the 30-year-old Aurora, Ont., man drove drunk to one of their stations Monday, then demanded a place to stay overnight.

An officer saw a Honda Civic pull into the Rutherford Rd. station in Vaughan, Ont., around 11:30 p.m.

“The car pulled into the visitor parking area and the lone male occupant entered the police station through the front doors,” said a police statement. “Once inside, the man became belligerent, demanding that officers provide him with a place to sleep for the night.”

Gulenko was administered a breath test and allegedly blew over twice the legal limit. He was held in police custody overnight.

Gulenko is charged with impaired driving and operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol level over 80 mg. He is scheduled to appear in court April 3.

B.C.: Truck Rolls Over, Farm Workers Hurt, Owner Found Vicariously Liable Via Section 86 of the Motor Vehicle Act.

Update:  Egg Farm

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The incident that gave rise to this case occurred on November 17, 2006 at Kamloops and the court proceedings determining liability ended last week. Adrianna Browne was driving a pickup truck carrying temporary farm workers from a Knutsford farm to the New Life Mission downtown. The trip ended on Long Lake Road when the truck went down an embankment, rolling several times. The 14 occupants in the truck took action against Adrianna and her mother, the owner of the truck, for injuries received in the collision.

In this case Madam Justice Hyslop found Adrianna negligent by driving the truck recklessly and at a rate of speed which was excessive given the nature of Long Lake Road. Her mother was found vicariously liable via section 86 of the Motor Vehicle Act. The injured occupants were found not to be contributorily negligent because they were not wearing a seatbelt given that they faced a 15 kilometer walk home in the cold and dark that they were not dressed properly for if they did not accept the ride.

See Tataryn v. Browne, 2014 BCSC 13

TTC & Metrolinx: Both Estimate Different Times for Transfers on Crosstown

Update:

Where the Subway Meets the LRT

Estimates for Crosstown LRT transfers at Eglinton more than the 40 seconds Metrolinx was projecting for Scarborough LRT transfer to subway at Kennedy.

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Transit riders hate to transfer.

Eliminating a transfer at Kennedy Station was one of the key justifications for a city council decision to build a $3 billion, three-stop subway extension in Scarborough rather than an LRT.

But it turns out that transfer would have been relatively quick compared to what’s coming at other stops on Toronto’s new transit map.

The Kennedy connection was expected to take riders 40 seconds on average in the morning peak, according to Metrolinx. The estimate doesn’t include time spent waiting for trains.

That transfer at Kennedy would have been relatively short compared to estimates for the interchange stations on the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown LRT.

While Metrolinx and the TTC have different numbers, both suggest it will take longer to move between subway and LRT at Eglinton West and Eglinton Station.

Metrolinx, which uses computer modeling to come up with its estimates, projects that the transfer between LRT and subway at Eglinton Station, will average 1 minute, 45 seconds. At Eglinton West, it will be about 3.5 minutes.

Those times — again, the product of computer simulations — are based on ridership projections for the peak hour of the morning commute.

While the TTC transfer times are longer, they are not directly comparable to the Metrolinx projections, stressed TTC head of engineering Susan Reed Tanaka.

Unlike Metrolinx, the TTC calculates its transfer times using the Ontario Building Code guidelines for rapid transit stations. Those estimates of walking times are far more conservative and don’t necessarily reflect the average rider’s walking speeds, she said.

“(The Ontario Building Code is) not really looking at an average walking time. They’re looking at a reasonable worst case. That would include children and seniors and people who would have difficulty walking or moving in a crowd. The reality is I might be able to walk twice as fast as those speeds,” said Reed Tanaka.

Using those guidelines, the TTC projects a 5-minute, 25-second transfer between subway and LRT at Eglinton West, where the LRT platform will be one level below the subway.

At Yonge and Eglinton, where riders will have to walk two levels between the LRT and the Yonge subway, the TTC is projecting 2.5 minutes.

Those transfer times are based on walking from the middle of one platform to the middle of the other.

The same guidelines put the average transfer at Bloor-Yonge Station at 3 minutes, 10 seconds.

The interchange stations are one of the most challenging design problems on the Crosstown. In addition to keeping the connections fast and simple, the LRT has to be built while the subway stations are still mostly functioning.

The design for the Eglinton West station is 30 per cent complete. Eglinton Station at Yonge is only 5 per cent complete. The link for the Crosstown at Kennedy Station hasn’t even got that far, said Reed Tanaka.

The designs could still change, in which case they would go back to the TTC board for approval, she said.

The preliminary Eglinton Station design actually proposes shifting the existing subway platform about 70 metres to the north of its current location so that it runs directly under the road rather than south of Eglinton Ave. That would allow for LRT connecting stairs to be built at the north and south ends of the platform. If the station were to stay where it is, all riders would have to connect via the north end of the platform, creating a bottleneck.

To move the subway platform, the TTC will have to eliminate a pocket track — a section used to store work trains at the north end of the station. Those can be stored elsewhere, said Reed Tanaka.

Dispersing crowds is a consideration in both station designs. Transit officials are estimating 10,000 people an hour will transfer in the peak hour at Eglinton Station by 2051; 6,800 at Eglinton West.

The Eglinton-Yonge station is estimated to involve about 50 weekend closures.

Station construction isn’t scheduled until around 2016, said Metrolinx spokesman Jamie Robinson.

Barrie Police Constable Receives One (1) Year Jail Sentence for Assault

Update: see previous post – June 22, 2013 Barrie: Police Constable Jason Nevill Found Guilty of Assault Causing Bodily Harm, Fabricating Evidence and Obstructing Justice

A Barrie Police officer who was caught on video beating up a man and then attempted to cover up his crime, was sentenced to one year in jail Thursday for an “outrageous” assault. Barrie Advance File Photo
A Barrie Police officer who was caught on video beating up a man and then attempted to cover up his crime, was sentenced to one year in jail Thursday for an “outrageous” assault. Barrie Advance File Photo

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A Barrie Police officer who was caught on video beating up a man and then attempted to cover up his crime, was sentenced to one year in jail Thursday for an “outrageous” assault.

Justice Lorne Chester said Jason Nevill, a 10-year veteran of the force, deserved the upper range of sentencing for the November 2010 assault and his deceit when he charged his victim, then fabricated his notes.

“The video gave us a very powerful seven minutes of viewing. The video says volumes,” Chester said. “Police are supposed to serve and protect, not run roughshod over someone. This assault was so outrageous.”

About a dozen supporters of victim Jason Stern, 26, broke into applause as the burly officer was led away in handcuffs by four court officers.

Crown attorney Brenda Cowie successfully argued for the one-year jail term, saying Nevill’s convictions for fabricating evidence and obstructing justice could, in some ways, be considered even more reprehensible than the assault.

Justice Lorne Chester said Jason Nevill, a 10-year veteran of the force, deserved the upper range of sentencing for the November 2010 assault and his deceit when he charged his victim, then fabricated his notes.
Justice Lorne Chester said Jason Nevill (smiling above), a 10-year veteran of the Barrie police force, deserved the upper range of sentencing for the November 2010 assault and his deceit when he charged his victim, then fabricated his notes.

“It was a breach of public trust. The sentence that is imposed on a police officer ought to be greater than one a regular person would get,” Cowie told the court.

A Bayfield Mall video, which Justice Chester watched “hundreds of times,” shows Nevill “rag-dolling” Stern, jumping on him, handcuffing him and punching him in the head as he lies bleeding on the pavement near the mall entrance.

Nevill charged Stern with assaulting a police officer, a charge that was making its way through the court system until a private detective hired by the family uncovered the video.

Both Cowie and defence lawyer David Butt agreed Nevill has shown no remorse over the assault, which has emotionally scarred Stern, leaving him with depression and anxiety.

Butt asked for a five-month sentence, adding the jail sentence will cost Nevill his job and place him in jeopardy as a police officer in custody. Butt said his client will also suffer life-long “extreme” public humiliation due to the video, which went viral on the Internet.

Barrie Police Chief Kimberley Greenwood, in a statement, called Nevill’s conduct “unacceptable.”

“These actions are a betrayal of our sworn oath and principles,” Greenwood said.