A couple charged with human trafficking in what the judge called “despicable treatment” of temporary foreign workers was sentenced in court in Red Deer on Thursday afternoon.
In 2015, Ravinder Sidhu, who also goes by Ruby, and Varinder Sidhu were charged in connection with the abuse of seven temporary foreign workers from the Philippines who worked at Econo Lodge in Red Deer County’s Gasoline Alley.
The couple charged the workers $400 each per month for a room and sometimes there were four people living in one room, according to facts the provincial judge read in court on Thursday. The Sidhus only paid each worker $10 an hour, and $7.50 an hour for overtime worked, the judge said.
Court heard one of the workers had to do jobs at the Sidhus’ farm, which was not part of their contract. A social function was also worked, during which time the employees were paid $50 for eight hours of work.
During his sentencing, Provincial Court Judge D.J. Plosz called the treatment of the workers “shameful” and “despicable.” Plosz said the couple used the workers for cheap labour to make money for themselves.
“Shame on you both,” Plosz said.
In March, Ravinder Sidhu pleaded guilty to communicating misleading information with the intent to induce or deter immigration to Canada under the Immigration Act. The charge related to an offence that occurred between January 1, 2011 and June 24, 2014.
On Thursday, a judge handed Ravinder Sidhu a sentence of two years less a day, which will be served in the community.
Varinder Sidhu was sentenced for failing to keep employment records as required by the Alberta employment standards code. He also received a condition sentence, plus a $5,000 fine.
“We just want to say we’re sorry,” Ravinder Sidhu said.
“Sorry, sir,” Varinder added.
The couple was initially charged with additional offences, but those were withdrawn.
The province ordered the couple to pay back about $91,600 in wages. The couple has not yet paid the workers for the cost of their flights to and from the Philippines, which was part of the labour contract.
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