Foreign workers denounce their working conditions in PEI.

Foreign workers denounce their working conditions atÎ.-P.-É.

These foreign workers, all from Vietnam, allege having been subjected to abusive practices (archives).

At least 22 temporary foreign workers, all from Vietnam, allege that they have been subjected to abusive practices at work, in the Island of Prince Edward Island.

Among the allegations, these temporary foreign workers denounce the non-payment of their wages or the payment of wages below what is established on the island, that is to say less than 15 dollars per hour.

According to Truong-Chien Ly, president of VietPEI, the allegations relate particularly to a farm on the island, the name of which has not been disclosed.

Truong-Chien Ly, the president of VietPEI, the association which represents people of Vietnamese origin on the island, says he was informed of such situations for the first time in 2020.

“She [one of the people in this situation] was scared and felt bad when she came here to work. And after that, I said we have to tell the whole story, and we'll find a way to help them.

—VietPEI President Truong-Chien Ly

Canada's temporary foreign worker program also requires temporary foreign workers to receive transportation and housing support , which would not have been their case.

The start of their employment contract would also have been delayed by several weeks, which would have left workers without pay during this period.

According to Truong-Chien Ly, the allegations relate specifically to a farm on the island, the name of which has not been disclosed.

This is a situation that concerns the Island Federation of Agriculture, according to the organization's director, Donald Killorn.

“At present, I would say that the industry in Prince Edward Island is dependent on temporary foreign workers. »

—Donald Killorn, Chief Executive of the Island Federation of Agriculture

Explains that labor shortages have been an issue in the agricultural sector for several years .

Donald Killorn clarified that the Canadian temporary foreign worker program is a federal tool that allows industry to meet demand by adding personnel.

Our members want this program to work properly. […] This includes the fair treatment offered to temporary foreign workers, he explains.

Donald Killorn is president of the Prince Edward Island Federation of Agriculture.

More than 1,400 agricultural workers came to the island in 2021, according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

About 40% of people working in this industry on the island are temporary foreign workers.

Allegations related to the working conditions of temporary foreign workers to the island are under investigation by the Canada Border Services Agency.

In an email, the agency said it was unable to provide any details of an ongoing investigation.

The VietPEI Association and the Cooper Institute are offering support to these workers by providing them with information on their rights and their possibility of obtaining a permit work, according to Truong-Chien Ly.

This document would allow them to move to another employer on the island, if the companies they work for do not respect their rights nor the terms set out in their employment contract.

With information from Kevin Yarr, CBC

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