Tamara Hynd/The Free Press
The RCMP has confirmed that they are investigating the Tim Hortons in Fernie.
“With regards to the Fernie Tim Horton’s situation, I can confirm that a file has been opened but as this is an ongoing investigation, I am unable to provide any details,” said RCMP Sgt. Will Thien.
B.C. Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair called on the RCMP on Monday, Dec. 9 to launch an investigation into Tim Hortons in light of serious allegations of theft and fraud committed against employees who are Temporary Foreign Workers.
According to claims by the workers, their boss at Fernie Tim Hortons demanded cash payments for any overtime wages they received. As well, workers allege they were asked to make payments to cover the employer’s cost for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
Sinclair said these allegations go well beyond infractions covered by BC’s Employment Standards Act, and if true, likely constitute serious criminal offenses.
Richard Pepito filed a complaint with B.C. Employment Standards Branch against Fernie Tim Hortons. Pepito and his girlfriend, Heidi Kibanoff were hired in 2009 under Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFW) by Pierre Pelletier, owner of the Fernie Tim Hortons franchise.
“There is rarely a sufficient penalty levied against the employer by the provincial Employment Standards Branch,” said Sinclair. Despite the federal government’s promise to increase enforcement, and many well-documented cases of exploitation, few employers have been cited for non-compliance.
“This case is yet another example of the shameful exploitation that happens with Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program,” said Sinclair. “And while this case itself warrants an RCMP investigation, the program itself is equally to blame.”
There are 12 Filipino employees at the Fernie Tim Hortons working under a Temporary Worker Permit.