A man is seen among the stables behind Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver, Tuesday, August, 20, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Advocates call on B.C., feds to protect rights of workers after Hastings Racecourse raid

26 Mexican workers were taken away, letter says

Labour advocacy groups are calling on B.C.’s attorney general to respect the rights of workers taken away during an immigration raid at Hastings Racecourse last month.

The groups sent a letter, which was issued Labour Day, saying the writers are “horrified that several of our neighbours, comrades, and fellow workers and residents are unable to celebrate this day with us” after the raid.

The racecourse raid came in the early hours of Aug. 19, when number of people employed and supervised by various horse owners and trainers were escorted off the site.

READ MORE: Workers escorted away in border services’ raid at Vancouver horse-racing track

Last week, Attorney General David Eby said raid came after a whistleblower reached out to his office last October with concerns about what was happening at the racecourse on multiple issues, including people working without permits. The issue was passed to the Canadian Border Security Agency in January, he added.

The letter was addressed to Eby, Premier John Horgan, the federal ministers for immigration and public security, Vancouver-Hastings MLA Shane Simpson and East MP Jenny Kwan. As of Sunday morning, it had 132 signatories including the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, No One Is Illegal-Vancouver and Sanctuary Health.

The writers said around 26 workers from Mexico were detained in the raid.

“These workers are being punished with exclusion orders for the alleged corruption of an employee of the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch who may have provided fake documents in exchange for benefits and cash,” the letter said. “Many of the workers have been coming to Canada for a few years and believed they had the necessary legal authorization.”

A gaming inspector at the racecourse has been suspended with pay as a result of the raid and all licences issued at Hastings Racecourse will be reviewed.

Eby said he felt for the workers caught in the middle.

“That’s one of the reasons I was so concerned about these allegations… that there may have been a provincial employee involved in exploiting these very vulnerable people,” he said.

The letter called on federal and provincial governments to protect the workers through work permits, resident permits and to allow them to reenter Canada to work.

A demonstration in support of the workers is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday at the main gate of the PNE.

READ MORE: Hastings Racecourse raid leads to suspension of B.C. gaming worker, fraud allegations


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kootenay-Columbia MP urges end to ‘illegal roadblocks’ in solidarity with pipeline dispute

Rob Morrison says protestors across Canada need to remove roadblocks on roads, rail lines

Golden Food Bank looks for community support heading into summer

The food bank will be looking to keep momentum going from a succesful holiday season

Kicking Horse conditions update, Friday February 21

Kicking Horse reports no new snow in the last 24 hours. The… Continue reading

Golden Highway Update, Friday February 21

Watch for slippery sections between Quartz Creek Bridge and the western boundary… Continue reading

Moberly based Northern Silica to close doors

The layoffs come just a month after a temporary layoff over the holidays in December

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay B.C. man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

RCMP clarifies stance on removing officers from Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C.

Police say will remove officers only if hereditary chiefs keep road open to pipeline workers

Most Read