Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Construction industry group calls for government crackdown on 'unscrupulous contractors' in Metro Vancouver

read full article by Jessica Barrett, Vancouver Sun

A group of construction professionals is pressing the federal government to crack down on “unscrupulous contractors” they say have made it impossible for law-abiding companies to compete in the industry.

In a letter sent to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews last week, Wayne Cox, executive secretary-treasurer of the B.C. Regional Council of Carpenters, said the problem of unethical payroll practices and illegal workers in the Lower Mainland is rampant.

Cox also represents a group of non-union and union industry workers that authored a 2011 discussion paper on the issue that was sent to the Canada Revenue Agency, the Canada Border Services Agency and the RCMP.

“The construction industry in Vancouver, in particular the carpenter, formwork and drywall sectors, have been devastated by the use of illegal immigrants by unscrupulous contractors,” the letter states.

“Low wages, payment by cash … and other illegal schemes have made it virtually impossible for legitimate employers to do business and employees to earn a living wage in the construction industry in Vancouver.”

Cox commended Toews on the high-profile Canada Border Services Agency raid earlier this month that resulted in the arrests of eight men working at an east Vancouver construction site. The raid was filmed by a TV crew for the documentary series Border Security and at least five of those arrested have been issued deportation notices.

In an interview Monday, Cox said the raid has pushed the issue of illegal workers on to the public radar. But his letter encouraged Toews to get to the root of the problem by publicly prosecuting employers.

“We anxiously await the (Border Security) episode where the real culprits, the contractors and subcontractors who devise these illegal schemes, are arrested, fined and serve jail sentences,” he wrote.

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