The owner of a Dartmouth business that was raided in early April, putting the status of several foreign workers in doubt, is facing dozens of counts of immigration fraud.
The Canadian Border Services Agency announced Monday that Hector Mantolino, owner of Mantolino Property Services Ltd., has been charged with 56 counts under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
The CBSA alleges Mantolino was making false statements to government agencies about the wages he paid foreign workers, and of telling the workers to lie about the wages “if they wanted to stay in Canada.”
“It’s not that common for us to see this type of victimization of the workers,” said Albert Price, CBSA director of Enforcement and Intelligence.
It’s alleged some of the 28 workers, employed as janitors, were making as little as $3.13 an hour because of illegal clawbacks or outright withholding of wages.
“(It resulted) in them not really making a living wage on 40 hours a week and then having to work significantly more than that just to try to make a living,” said Price.
Price said the investigation began with a tipoff in the early spring that lead to search warrants being executed at the company’s office. Mantolino was arrested on April 10.
The investigation raised the prospect that the workers, most of whom were Filipino, would have to leave the country, but Price said there’s been no enforcement against or removal of the workers.
The director of operations at an immigrant support organization in Halifax said about 2500 temporary foreign workers enter the province every year, and many of them don’t have access to information about their rights – making them vulnerable to similar abuse.
“Labour standards is provincially regulated by the government, so they may not trust the government,” said Gerry Mills of Immigration Settlement and Support Services. “There will be some who need the money to send back home and it doesn’t really matter what the situation is.”
Mantolino is also accused of developing false businesses and submitting false documents to various government agencies and of advising foreign workers he hired to “provide misleading and untruthful statements on their work permits.”