Garibaldi at Squamish proponents owe $130,000 to temporary foreign workers

Province orders Aquilini family to pay blueberry farm employees

The Ministry of Labour has determined a major proponent of Garibaldi at Squamish owes more than $130,000 in pay to about 170 temporary foreign workers from Guatemala.

This finding against the Aquilini family, which also owns the Vancouver Canucks, is unrelated to the Garibaldi at Squamish project.

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The finding is instead connected to the family’s Golden Eagle Blueberry Farm in Pitt Meadows.

The Migrant Workers Dignity Association, or MWDA, and the BC Federation of Labour allege temporary foreign workers were not provided with 40 hours of work each week, as promised in their employment contracts, reads a determination made by the province.

“I find Geri Partnership is in contravention of Section 8 of the [Employment Standards] Act by representing to the [temporary foreign workers] that they would be paid for 40 hours each week they worked,” reads the decision made by Sukh Kaila, delegate of the director of employment standards.

Geri Partnership is part of the Aquilini’s operations.

“The employment contract did not outline that there might be fluctuations in the hours available to the [temporary foreign workers] when they arrived in Canada to perform work for the employer,” continues Kaila.

“The employer admits that the [temporary foreign workers] were not given 40 hours o[f] work each week. The date of contravention is the first pay period in which the employees did not receive 40 hours of work.”

As a result, Kaila ordered Geri to pay the workers the amount of money they should have received under the contract.

According to the document, Geri denies it contravened the Employment Standards Act.

Geri also said “there is no evidence that a false representation was made by the employer prior to the [temporary foreign worker’s] employment,” the decision reads.

The BC Federation of Labour applauded the decision.

“The decision shows that the Aquilinis engaged in wage theft. One of B.C.’s wealthiest families has been ordered to pay wages for the vulnerable temporary foreign workers they employed. The decision shows that the farm withheld work and were not paying them the wages they were entitled to under their contract,” said BC Federation of Labour President Laird Cronk in a press release.

The Chief tried various contacts to seek comment from the Aquilinis, or their representatives, for this story, but had not heard back by press deadline.

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