According to Nicholas Keung, immigration reporter for the Toronto Star, several Overseas Filipino Workers OFWs continue their uphill battle to get their money back from a local recruitment agency in Canada. Here’s the story of why a group of OFWs took A&L Hammer Workforce Management to court.
OFWs came to the province of Alberta in large numbers under the Government of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program TWFP, including Ryan Aporbo, who worked as a cleaner in a fast food restaurant.
Things were good, people were getting paid. Then it all came crashing down, when Alberta’s economy fell into recession. People started losing their jobs, and of course, the first to be let go were the OFWs.
Unemployed and with the time on his Work Permit running out, Ryan Aporbo was desperate to stay in Canada. Just like every other OFW, Ryan Aporbo had bills to pay, and family back home in the Philippines to support.
Enter A&L Hammer Workforce Management Inc. The Toronto-based recruitment agnecy connected people looking for work with Canadian employers for nursing homes, construction jobs, farms, factories, meat packing plants, hotels and restaurants.
Looking for work, Ryan Aporbo saw an advertisement online and contacted A&L Hammer Workforce Management.
Ryan Aporbo spoke with Lily Miranda, owner of A&L Hammer Workforce Management. Lily Miranda told Ryan Aporbo about Sharon Mushroom Farm in East Gwillimbury, Ontario.
According to Lily Miranda, the farm was looking for mushroom pickers. Desperate to stay in Canada, Ryan Aporbo took Lily Miranda’s offer to work at the mushroom farm.
To work at the mushroom farm, A&L Hammer Workforce Management charged Ryan Aporbo large fees, including thousands of dollars in paralegal advice and Labour Market Impact Assessment LMIA fees.
According to A&L Hammer Workforce Management, all these fees were in relation to his new Work Permit application.
LMIA application fees are to be paid for by the Canadian employer, not the OFW.
Ryan Aporbo never got his new Work Permit. Instead, A&L Hammer Workforce Management took his money and got him a Visitor Visa so he can stay longer in Canada, after his first Work Permit ran out.
How much does it cost to apply for a Visitor Visa? All of CAD$100.00.
So not only did Ryan Aporbo pay A&L Hammer Workforce Management money for something he really could have done on his own, but A&L Hammer Workforce Management put him in a position where he was working for a Canadian employer on a Visitor Visa.
Which, incidentally, is illegal and is grounds for your removal (more commonly known as DEPORTATION) from Canada.
Foreign nationals (like Ryan Aporbo), who are in Canada with a Visitor Visa are NOT allowed to work for a Canadian employer. You need a Work Permit for that (which Ryan Aporbo did NOT have).
Now the whole thing is in the hands of the court. Ryan Aporbo and a group of like-minded OFWs have taken Lily Miranda, A&L Hammer Workforce Management and Canadian employer Sharon Mushroom Farms to court for improperly charging them for legal advice and LMIA application fees.
Ryan Aporbo alleges that he paid A&L Hammer Workforce Management CAD$1,371.00 for a positive LMIA (which he wasn’t supposed to pay for) and a new Work Permit to be able to legally work for Sharon Mushroom Farm.
Ryan Aporbo didn’t receive either document. Instead, he worked at Sharon Mushroom Farm on a Visitor Visa.
Both A&L Hammer Workforce Management and Sharon Mushroom Farm deny the allegations, saying that the fees paid by Ryan Aporbo covered the services of an immigration lawyer.
By the way, Ryan Aporbo isn’t exactly a low-skilled labourer. He’s got a degree in Agriculture from the Philippines.
Ryan Aporbo has an application to extend his stay in Canada under Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds. It’s a long shot, but he remains optimistic about his chances. He currently has a temporary Open Work Permit allowing him to work in Canada until his application to stay has been decided by Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada IRCC.
Meanwhile, Canada Border Services Agency CBSA has charged Lily Miranda, and Sharon Mushroom Farm owners Laxman Marsonia and Yatin Bera with trafficking and representation.
In a statement CBSA said that “there are serious consequences for those who break Canada’s immigration laws, including possible criminal convictions, court-imposed fines, probation periods and incarceration.”
Allegations made by both Ryan Aporbo and CBSA against A&L Hammer Workforce Management and Sharon Mushroom Farm have yet to be proven in court.
Through her lawyers, Lily Miranda has stated that she has done nothing wrong.
Did you send money to Lily Miranda or A&L Hammer Workforce Management through money transfer services like Western Union? Did you pay for recruitment fees and LMIA application fees to Lily Miranda or A&L Hammer Workforce Management? If so, might we suggest getting help from the following:
If you are in Canada, contact the Philippine Overseas Labour Office POLO in Toronto Ontario at: email@example.com and (416) 975-8252
If you are in the Philippines, contact the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration POEA at: firstname.lastname@example.org and 722-1144 or 722-1155
If you have information about that may help CBSA in their investigation, contact CBSA at: Citizenshipemail@example.com and (888) 502-9060
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