CBC and CTV reports that Hector Mantolino, a Filipino businessman from Halifax, New Brunswick was sentenced to two years in prison for abusing OFWs in Canada.
Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Glen McDougall handed Mantolino a two year sentence, sending a message to Canadian employers not to abuse Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program TFWP.
The TFWP is a Government of Canada immigration program that allows Canadian employers to hire foreign workers to fill acute labour shortages.
Under the TFWP, Canadian employers must pay the prevailing wages for all work done by foreign workers. Foreign workers enjoy protection under the provincial employment standards act, including days off and minimum wage rates.
Mantolino pleaded guilty to misrepresentation under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act IRPA.
Mantolino owns several cleaning companies, for which he was approved by the Government of Canada to hire foreign workers.
Mantolino applied for and was approved Labour Market Impact Assessments LMIA for 28 workers over the span of several years. All of the foreign workers came from the Philippines.
Mantolino paid the group of workers CAD$500,000.00 (or PHP19,479,340.00) less than what he was supposed to.
The sentence comes after Mantolino was first charged by the Canada Border Services Agency CBSA with 56 counts of immigration fraud. The charges were then consolidated into one indictment.
According to the CBSA investigation, Mantolino forced the OFWs to lie about what they were really getting paid in Canada, and saying that they received prevailing wages for work that they did in his companies.
In reality, Mantolino was paying the OFWs as little as CAD$3.13 an hour after deductions.
During the trial, Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Glen McDougall said, “I am satisfied that Mr. Mantolino was in a position of trust in relation to the 28 temporary foreign workers. He abused that position and although there is no evidence he actually profited from the exploitation of these workers, he stood to gain by making his company more competitive and hence more profitable in the workplace.”
Coming to his decision during the sentencing, Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Glen McDougall took into account the length of time Mantolino was abusing the OFWs, the effort he took in hiding his activities from the authorities and the abuse the OFWs suffered under Mantolino.
Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Glen McDougall said that Mantolino “concocted a scheme to attract disadvantaged workers who were desperate to make a better life for themselves and their families and to exploit them for his own personal gain.”
Timothy McLaughlin, crown lawyer told CBC that Mantolino’s sentencing is significant, as Canadian employers continue to be reliant on foreign workers to fill labour shortages.
McLaughlin estimates that there are over 300,000 foreign workers under the TWFP.
McLaughlin argued that “We need to protect them. They do have rights and it is our obligation as a society to ensure that they are fully protected by the rule of law.”
Mantolino’s defense lawyers Ian Hutchinson and Lee Cohen expressed disappointment in the sentencing, saying that their client had pleaded guilty, had no criminal record and had high prospects for rehabilitation.
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