Filipino janitors await immigration decision as border officials investigate employer
Two dozen Filipino janitors are awaiting a crucial decision from Citizenship and Immigration Canada that will determine whether they can stay in the country, even though they have done nothing wrong.
The Canada Border Services Agency is investigating their employer, Mantolino Property Services Ltd., after a person connected to the company was arrested last week.
Until today, the company had contracts with the Halifax Regional Municipality that included cleaning the mayor’s office.
“They came here legally, with valid work permits, with contracts that told them they would be getting paid the proper amount,” says immigration lawyer Elizabeth Wozniak.
Pay stubs obtained by CTV News show two employees worked roughly 100 hours over two weeks in March, but their pay cheques were for less than $700, which means they were paid less than $7 an hour.
One employee, who has asked not to be identified, says he paid thousands of dollars to get the job with Mantolino Property Services and for immigration paper work.
Last week, Canada Border Service agents descended on the company’s office at a home in Dartmouth, N.S. where they executed a search warrant and arrested one man.
Mantolino Property Services had contracts to provide janitorial services to 13 municipal buildings, including city hall and the mayor’s office, through a franchise or sub-contract with Jani-King.
As of Friday morning, that all changed.
“It’s our understanding that a subcontractor…the one in question, has surrendered all cleaning contracts for HRM facilities,” says city spokesperson Michaelyn Thompson.
Thompson says Jani-King Nova Scotia will take over the contracts.
“It’s our understanding that it’s his intention to keep these workers employed,” says Thompson.
While Jani-King officials may want to keep the workers, they may not be able to stay in Canada.
“Your job and your work permit are tied together,” says Wozniak. “So, the minute you lose that job, you have no ability to work anymore.”
The workers may have to return to the Philippines, but Wozniak is pleading their case to Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
“I’m asking Citizenship and Immigration Canada to issue them temporary residence permits on an emergency basis.”
Citizenship and Immigration Canada would not comment on the case, and repeated attempts to contact members of Mantolino Property Services have not been successful.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Rick Grant