Alberta RCMP allege a husband and wife used a Calgary-based cleaning business to exploit foreign nationals.
Police say an 18-month investigation by the Integrated Border Enforcement Team (IBET) determined the owners of the unnamed company recruited people through Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker program, then “took advantage of them upon their arrival in Canada for personal financial gain.”
RCMP charged 50-year-old Amelita Layco with two counts of human trafficking, two counts of benefiting from human trafficking and one count of fraud.
Macario Layco, 49, is charged with two counts of benefiting from human trafficking.
Both are scheduled to appear in court on April 16.
“What we’re seeing is that individuals from foreign countries are being brought over to Canada through the temporary foreign worker stream, and not all, but some of those individuals upon arriving here are experiencing elements of trafficking, whether it be poor work conditions or lack of pay,” Const. Mark Mcdonald said.
“There are various elements that make people vulnerable to this type of trafficking, and some of those things do include not understanding the labor laws in Canada, not understanding their rights, and as well their obligations once they arrive in Canada to work here,” Mcdonald said.
Mcdonald explained that “sometimes they just don’t know the difference between what is factual and what they’re being told by the employer themselves — who is the trafficker.”
“We’re trying to get the word out there to say that this is happening, and as well that there is help out there for those that may be suffering in silence.”
The Calgary Catholic Immigration Society is involved in providing services for victims of crimes like this, including the recent police RCMP charges, CEO Fariborz Birjandian told Global News.
“We are helping them to secure a safe place,” he said.
Birjandian says that anyone who finds themselves in a human trafficking situation can call Calgary Catholic Immigration Society to get help.
“In case somebody contact us, we will definitely provide the services they need to get out of that abusive situation,” Birjandian.
RCMP say the victims are receiving support from the RCMP and Action Collation on Human Trafficking (ACT) Alberta, a non-profit organization that assists survivors of human trafficking.
If you or someone you know is a victim of exploitation you can contact ACT Alberta by calling 587-585-5236 or the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-833-900-1010.
With files from Lysandra Nothing, Global News