Coalition calls for non-permit worker checks 0
Between eight to 15 undocumented workers were detained by Canada Border Services Agency at this east Vancouver worksite in March 2013. The CBSA raid was filmed by Force Four Entertainment, a company filming for TV show Border Security. (24 HOURS FILE PHOTO)
A coalition of B.C. construction trade workers is calling for more job site inspections after undocumented workers were filmed being busted by border officers in east Vancouver last week.
Tom Sigurdson, BC Building Trades Council executive director, said there’s potentially millions in tax revenue being lost from contractors who conduct business “under the table,” taking advantage of a government oversight measure axed about 10 years ago.
According to the B.C. Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, in the late 1990s and early 2000s there was joint federal-provincial team who worked to “ensure that employers, employees and contractors” in residential construction were complying with laws.
Now, B.C.’s current Employment Standards Branch only does “on-site” inspections in the agricultural industry, the ministry noted.
Sigurdson called the recent bust a sign the program should return.
“In their first or second year (of the program), they recovered about $180 million of lost revenues,” he said Monday.
Additionally, at the $15-hourly rate one detained painter suggested that would mean the cash payment jobs are offering less than half the industry standard rate, he noted.
The identity of the “sub, sub-contractor” that Cressey Development hired to do the job at the Victoria and Commercial intersection worksite that was busted is still unclear.
According to a 2012 report led by Canada Revenue Agency, construction was identified as the sector with the highest “underground” employment, making up 30% of reported incidents.
When companies hire sub-contractors, “slips recording details of the payments and recipients are sent to the CRA,” the report noted.
“The information on the slips is entered into its risk assessment systems and matched to the information reported by recipients.
“This enables the detection of omission or understatement of income.”
Meanwhile, an online petition to cancel the Border Security TV show — the program the detained workers were being filmed for — had reached in excess of 10,000 signatures by Monday afternoon.