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.

Just Posted

Attendance matters for Saanich Peninsula students

Achievement depends on attendance, hundreds of students heard

Large willow tree comes down in Beacon Hill Park

The tree has been in place for decades at Goodacre Lake

Traffic slowed after reports of a pedestrian struck in Colwood

Incident occurred on Metchosin Road near Sooke Road intersection

Videos show allegedly intoxicated teens forcibly removed from Luxton Fairgrounds

Posts about altercations with security personnel in Langford swarming social media

Lambrick Park School invites past kings and queens to 25th Mount Douglas race

Alumni, students, staff invited to school’s yearly King and Queen of the Hill race

WATCH: United Way #Drive4Five event launches campaign to raise $5 million

More than 80,000 lives changed last year by the United Way

Boy overdosed on illicit anti-anxiety drug found on Kelowna classroom floor, RCMP say

Noah Mills, 8, ingested a pink powdery substance off his Kelowna classroom floor

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Largest driving factor is the province’s complex stumpage system that results in high fees, expert says

20 day search for missing Labradoodle in Princeton, B.C. ends with tears of joy

The search brought out bloodhounds, and groups hoping to find Mordy

Canucks sign Brock Boeser to three-year, US$17.6-million deal

Young sniper will be in Vancouver Tuesday

B.C. forest industry looks to a high-technology future

Restructuring similar to Europe 15 years ago, executive says

RCMP conclude investigation into 2017 Elephant Hill wildfire

Files have been turned over to BC Prosecution Service

B.C. wants to be part of global resolution in opioid company bankruptcy claim

Government says settlement must include Canadian claims for devastation created by overdose crisis

Most Read