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

CRD librarian reflects on most-read titles in 2019

Graphic novels were especially popular in Williams Lake this year

B.C. premier talks forestry, service needs with handful of northern mayors in Prince George

Prince George meeting completes premier’s tour of Kitimat, Terrace, Fort St. James and Quesnel

B.C. Premier calls Quesnel a ‘hub of innovation’ in face of forestry downturn

Premier John Horgan tours Forestry Innovation Centre and meets with mayor, community representatives

Ulkatcho, Lhoosk’uz Dené sign agreements in support of Blackwater Mine project

Agreements commit to share portion of provincial mineral tax revenue collected from planned mine

Burst sprinkler system pipe forces evacuation at Glen Arbor Sunday in Williams Lake

At least three suites were damaged, most tenants can return to the seniors complex Tuesday

VIDEO: Nickelback gears up for nostalgia tour

Canadian band joins Stone Temple Pilots for a summer tour that includes just one stop in Canada

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. player becomes only second Canadian to enter Hall of Fame of Baseball

Walker received 76.6 percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

PHOTOS: Heavy snowfall breaks window, causing avalanche into B.C. newsroom office

It was a chaotic start to the week for the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

Canadian law firm launches class action on behalf of Iran flight victims

Flight 752 was shot down by Iran shortly after take off

Mission Hill cellarman fired after mistakenly dumping $162K of wine down the drain

The former employee filed a grievance with the West Kelowna winery but was unsuccesful

Protesters block B.C. government building entrance to support Wet’suwet’en First Nation

A letter with four demands was delivered to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources

Hospital patient pleads guilty to dumbbell assault of nurse in Abbotsford

Neale Heath admits to assault causing bodily harm in attack last September

Most Read