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

Midway mill shutdown expected to last 8 to 10 weeks

Vaagen Fibre Canada cites low inventory, road restrictions as reason for shut down

Castlegar march ensures missing, murdered aboriginal women not forgotten

About 60 people took part in the Valentine’s day memorial

First presumptive case of coronavirus identified in the Interior Health region

The woman, in her 30s, travelled from Shanghai and lives in the interior

Castlegar ski legend fêted in Switzerland

Felix Belczyk invited to 90th anniversary celebrations of international ski event

Timberwolves seek fresh lacrosse recruits

New season of the ‘fastest game on two feet’ begins this spring

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

Henrique scores 2 as Ducks soar past Canucks 5-1

Vancouver tumbles out of top spot in Pacific Division

Trudeau cancels Caribbean trip amid pipeline protests across Canada

Protests against Coastal GasLink have disrupted rail service

B.C. VIEWS: Inaction on pipeline protests not a viable response

Columnist Frank Bucholtz on how the Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute got so bad

PHOTOS: Top 10 memories of the 2010 Olympics

Black Press Media’s Jenna Hauck, shares some of her most memorable images of 2010 Winter Games

#FoxForFiver: Support grows in B.C. to put Terry Fox on new $5 bill

Terry Fox’ Marathon of Hope raised money for cancer research

Registration opens soon for BC 55+ Games in Richmond

2020 55+ Games have been officially scheduled for Sept. 15 to 19

Trudeau confers with cabinet ministers as rail blockades continue

The Trudeau government has been criticized for not doing more to end the blockades

Canadian nurses’ unions warn national standards for coronavirus protection too low

President says safety protocols nationwide are inadequate compared to those in Ontario and other countries

Most Read