Quebec’s labour minister says an investigation is underway into allegations that a private seniors residence in Lévis, Que., paid workers from Africa just $70 a week to work as orderlies for several months.
The allegations were reported in an investigative report in Le Devoir published on Thursday, prompting Labour Minister Jean Boulet to ask the workers’ health and safety board to investigate.
Christine Orain of Le Tremplin, a community organization that works with immigrants in the city just south of Quebec City, says the organization decided to go public after being unable to get any help for the workers.
An initial complaint came in January 2021 when one employee came to her organization to say the residence was denying access to his pay stub, and it was discovered employees were not receiving their COVID-19 bonuses.
Five others came forward afterwards, including some who didn’t have valid work permits and were allegedly told they would be helped to get one while “volunteering” at the residence in exchange for prepaid cards of between $50 and $70 per week, a situation that lasted for up to 11 months in some cases.
Orain says all six workers have since left the residence after receiving their work documents.
Boulet said in a statement Friday he was appalled by the report, noting that temporary foreign workers have the same rights and obligations as Quebec workers.
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