October 17, 2012
Alberta firm guilty of human trafficking
An Alberta company owned by a Ukrainian Orthodox priest has been convicted of human trafficking and smuggling in provincial court for importing Polish foreign workers under false pretenses and skimming their wages.
“We congratulate the RCMP on this important conviction,” said Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney and Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews in a joint statement.
“It is critical that foreign workers come to Canada through legal channels and under the appropriate labour conditions,” they said.
“This conviction demonstrates that Canada will not tolerate those seeking financial gain through the despicable crime of human smuggling.”
Kihew Energy Services Ltd. entered a guilty plea in provincial court in Edmonton on Oct. 9.
The plea was entered for knowingly bringing dozens of Polish workers into Canada without a valid visa, passport or other documents required by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
The guilty plea came in exchange for withdrawing individual charges against the owners of Kihew, who include Father John Lipinski, 43, of St. Paul, Alta., his wife, Angela, 42, and Calvin Steinhauer, 38, of Goodfish Lake, Alta.
An investigation was conducted by the RCMP Immigration Unit in Calgary and prosecuted by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, in Alberta.
It found that Kihew placed ads in a Polish newspaper and a website to recruit European welders and machinists to come to work in Canada.
According to court documents, Paul Myshaniuk, who worked for Lakeland College, sent letters to Canada Immigration accepting the foreign workers as students.
The foreign workers were allowed into Canada on student visas.
The first group of foreign workers arrived in December 2005.
All the foreign workers paid their own way to Canada and once they arrived, they were met by Kihew representatives.
The workers were required to pass a welding test administered by the company, then they went to work.
Kihew contracted the foreign workers to several northern Alberta businesses, charging about $24 per hour for the services, plus overtime.
The companies paid Kihew for the work provided and Kihew, in turn, paid the foreign workers between $10 and $12 per hour with no compensation for overtime.
In total, 60 foreign workers arrived in Alberta, before they were informed by the Canada Border Services Agency in September 2006 that they were not permitted to work in Canada, since they entered the country on student visas.
Randy Gurlock, director for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, interviewed the foreign workers.
They did not know they were supposed to go to school on a full-time basis.
None were aware that they were working in Canada illegally.
It is alleged that Kihew made a profit of about $1 million by sub-contracting the foreign workers.
Some of the foreign workers attended a few ESL (English as a second language) classes at Lakeland College.
However, none of the foreign workers attended the college for technical welding classes as indicated on their student visa.
Lakeland College had no knowledge of Myshaniuk’s actions.
He was subsequently fired by the college.
Kihew received a $215,000 fine as a sentence.
It will be paid to Lakeland College for foreign trade persons to challenge the Red Seal trade certificate.
Lipinski has been relieved of his duties at parishes in St. Paul and Bonnyville by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada.
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