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  1. #1
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    Default Canadian Embassy Scandal??

    My name is Glenn Needham. I am the farmer referred to in Trina's thread - Dominican obtaining work visa for Canada? I now believe that the thread started by Trina needs a new name and thus have done jsut that.
    I have not been contributing to this forum and this thread to this point but now feel I must - to try and correct the injustice in this work visa system.

    Before reading any further please read Trina's thread on our attempts in 2006 to hire foreign workers. You will be astounded as to the amount of frustration that has been administered to us to this point. But wait it gets even "better" this year.


    First off - I want to thank Trina for all the time she has given to fight this issue which I now believe after going through 2007 attempts is showing the signs of an out right scandal in the embassy in Santo Domingo and right up the chain of command to the office of Citizens and Immigration Canada here in Ottawa.

    Ok - where do I start??

    I will summarize "round 2" 2007 and state our findings and suspicions, At some point I will put together a website to document everything - including scanned documents received and all correspondence.

    Early this spring I again applied to HRSDC for permission to hire foreign workers. This time I explained on the application that I travel to the DR yearly, that I know all the people that I have applied for, can communicate with them fine and that I do not want someone else deciding for me that the applicants language would be an issue. I was approved again this year and
    immediately sent down HRSDC approved contract to the 4 applicants.

    Betania was the first to go back to the embassy to reapply for this season. You will recall that Betania was the person that was encouraged to reapply after the fiasco that happened last year and told that she would almost certainly be granted the visa this year. Like last season Betania again gave up the funds for applying - $130 usd and told to come back in 2 weeks. Her
    medical from last year was still valid so we assumed that she may be on a plane to Canada in time for the garden season.
    Two weeks went by and Betania again made the all day trip across the island - her fifth trip and fifth day lost since this process began last spring. This time Betania was even more prepared, had more securities in the DR including a car, land and money in the bank. We were stunned to learn that she was again denied this time for a different excuse - I will use the word
    excuse not reason because it is in fact a excuse - nothing that can be proven by anyone down at the embassy. They denied her
    because they felt that she would not return! OK????

    About 2 weeks later candidate 2 and 3 had accumulated there plethora of essential documentation to apply for a work visa.

    Anyone familiar with the process knows that this is a long list of required documentation that in itself requires more money and time to assemble. C2 and C3 then made the all day trip by bus across the island to forfeit their 130 $usd to the Canadian government. Then again were told to make another all day trip back in 2 weeks.

    I got the call from C3 that afternoon, she was in tears when she called saying that she and C2 were both denied for the same excuse as C1(Betania) - that the embassy staff felt that they might not return. At this point I dropped what I was doing in the fields and left the farm to drive home to get on the fax machine and demand answers from CIC.

    Here is my fax sent to the office of Diane Finley - Minister of Immigration. I also cc'd Trina, Merv (another friend helping in the fight) PM Mr. Harper and my Member of Parliament - Cheryl Gallant.

    The Fax

    Good?? Morning all

    Once again I find myself driving home from the farm to deal with this nightmarish ordeal with Immigration Canada, instead of getting some work done at the farm – where I seem to fall further and further behind as the days go by due to lack of help.

    Our strawberry crop (4 acres) is going to be ready in a matter of days and as a result of my recruiting efforts I now have 3 potential strawberry pickers available through the week until schools close for the summer (not until late June). I need help now or again a portion of my crop will rot in the fields as last year. So you can imagine my mood when I receive the phone call from one of the Dominican people crying - saying that she and another were both denied work visas for no rational reason. That makes 3 now – of the 4 that I have applied for that all have been denied - # 4 is yet to go to the embassy.
    SO - - I have just about had enough – and I now demand answers!!

    The reason given to the first 3 denied has basically been the same – they are unsatisfied that the worker will return to the Dominican Rep. at the conclusion of the work contract.
    This is just absurd! How can they determine that??
    One of the candidates denied yesterday has worked before overseas in Italy and Spain!!
    Ms Laura Diaz at the embassy in Santo Domingo tells me that no decisions are made there – that all are made in Haiti where the applicants passports, application and paperwork are sent. So am I to believe that someone in Haiti looking at this paperwork can determine which candidates will return home to the DR?? HIGHLY UNLIKELY!!

    I have requested Ms Diaz provide me with details as to what approx. percentage of Dominican Citizens (assuming no criminal or health reasons to hold them back) receiving HRSDC approved labor contracts are granted work visas? She replied that she can not give out that info. I asked what they look for in a candidate that might result in a approval of a work visa – same
    answer – sorry can not tell you that. We talked on the phone for 5 minutes and I got NO answers. I have absolutely NO idea what qualities they are looking for (if any) or if they just flip a coin to determine the answer. Should I not be entitled to the answers to those very basic questions?

    I am told that there is a preset limit for visas to Canada from the DR.
    If this is true – if there is any quota – no matter what the number – what they are doing by charging 130 usd to apply for a work visa would be illegal. If everyone –rich or poor - is not given the same chance something is seriously wrong.

    I am still left with the BIG QUESTION…
    Is there any point sending applicant #4 to the embassy?

    So here is what I want from you…

    Ms Finley…

    1 – I want the name and phone number of a contact in the office in Haiti that speaks English that I can talk to. Again Ms Diaz refused to give me this – top secret I guess???

    2 – I want to know the answer to those questions asked above..
    -what % of able Dominican citizens offered HRSDC approved job contracts are granted work visas??

    – How is approve/deny determined for these applicants? What are they looking for. How do they know who will and will not return to the DR?? Are they psychic?

    – I would wager that the % rate for applicants in Jamaica and Mexico presented with the same HRSDC approved contract are dramatically higher – I want the data on work visas approved from those 2 countries.

    – Canada likes to call themselves the land of equal opportunities – so I am assuming these numbers will be similar for Jamaica, Mexico and the DR – right??? The facts should speak for themselves.

    – I have sent these people money to cover the expenses of passports, visa applications, medicals, transportation back and forth 4 hours each way across the island totally more than one thousand dollars. The amount of money it takes for each of them to try – is the equivalent of one or two months wages for these people. Should I not have the right to the facts – if
    there is little chance of approval – why bother trying – is this a fair system?

    – I am not satisfied with the “excuse” given for refusal of these first 3 applicants and I DEMAND THEY BE GIVEN AN APPEAL AND ANOTHER CHANCE.
    I expect this second chance will not include starting over again and paying the fees again. After all “unsatisfied the applicant will return” is not a reason but an excuse – as how can anyone determine that ?– it is just an opinion – nothing else.
    What do they expect from me – to lock up these people when not working to ensure they get back on the plane in the fall?? I THINK NOT. I will however promise to do everything in my power to ensure that they return to their country when the work contract is over.


    Ms Burgos..

    For the time being hold off on doing anything with the media – lets see first if this can be resolved ASAP. Call me one my cell when you receive this.



    Ms Gallant.

    Please do anything you can to see that this unjust situation/system is looked at, and advise me please if there is anything else I should be doing.

    Thanks all – back to the fields for another long day.

    Glenn Needham
    Manager
    White Pine Farms
    Arnprior, Ontario


    End of fax

  2. #2
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    I then get a call from C4 - all excited saying that she has her passport and is ready to go to the embassy. Without going into any detail I ask her that she wait a bit until she hears from me before going to the embassy - thinking that something might happen in the mean time and not wanting Santo Domingo to deny another one.
    Soon after that a associate from Cheryl Gallants office Malcolm faxes a letter to the embassy in SD stating that his constituent wants the statistics as to what percentage of DR applicants granted HRSDC approved contracts are actually granted a work visa? Almost immediately they fax him back stating that I had no need for that information. Malcolm took it upon himself
    to fax back and told them that NOW their office wanted these figures. That was over 2 weeks ago and not a peep back from the embassy????

    Shortly after that I receive a form letter from CIC in the mail in response to my demands for answers. Anyone wanting to see this pathetic response email me - it is scanned and saved as a pdf file and I can not seem to figure out how to paste it into this page. This was obviously a 10 second "get this guy off our backs fix" form letter as none of my question were answered and she stated details that had to happen that happened already long ago - so seems this person did not even take the time to read my letter. That is the only correspondence I have received from CIC - no phone calls - nothing. I recall thinking at the time that this letter was a little strange as there was no contact information, no phone numbers, no street address - just
    signed by Ginnette Francour - Ministerial Enquires division on CIC letterhead.

    I gave this a couple more days to see if Malcolm's fax was doing anything - nothing - so I decide to call Diane Finley's office..... and ask to speak to Ginnette Francouer ...... long pause... I spell her name out for him.... he tells me that there is no one there by that name - suggests I call another number/different building of CIC. I do that - same thing ...confusion.. this person suggests I call yet another number, they have the directory for all CIC personnel,so I do but guess what-- nobody by that name on the directory!! I call back Diane Finley's office - ask again, give them my cell phone number, ask that they figure out who she is and have her call me. They offer to let someone else speak with me - at this point I suspect something strange going on so I insist - no, I received a letter from Ginnette Francouer and that I wanted to discuss this letter with the person who wrote it. He tells me he will look into it and have her call me - no call received for over a week.

    I am really getting bad vibes by all this so I call the 3 denied applicants and ask each of them... How long were each of you sitting in the waiting room at the embassy, approx. how many people were being processed during that time and did it appear to them that any were getting good news. The answers were pretty consistent.... 30 to 60 minutes spent waiting, 20-30 people each time going through the waiting room - not one of them looking happy with the outcome.




    About a week ago C3 calls me and tells me that C2 lost her job in the DR. C2 was too ashamed to tell me herself. C3 tells me that C2's only time off was Tuesdays and that her employer was firm about not taking any other time off. Well the embassy only takes appointments of Mondays and Thursdays. C2 took the time off for her 2 trips to SD and as a result lost her job because of it. She now has to give up the home she was renting and will have to send her 3 daughters to stay with their grandmother 4 hours away while she tries to get back on her feet.

    I then decide that the important question was one that I forgot to ask of CIC. How many work visa applications are they accepting per year? Another week had gone by so I sent another fax to Diane Finley's office with the last demand letter attached.

    Next Fax Jun 27

    To whom it may concern

    I am again sending the same letter to you that I have gotten no response to other than a form letter from someone who nobody there at CIC can put me in touch with.

    I received this form letter from Ginnette Francour. I tried to call her but nobody has anyone by that name on their office directory!
    Does this person exist? Is it an alias and if so why? How do you explain this? I left my phone number asked your office to locate her and have her call me - no call??

    I again DEMAND the answers to the questions posed as well as am adding another question.

    I now also want to know exactly how many work visa applications your embassy in the Dominican Republic accepts in a period of one year?

    I have given your office almost a month to respond to this matter - time is up! If you do not satisfy me with all my concerns in this letter including all the questions asked as well as the new one above I will take appropriate action which will include your "embassy scandal" becoming public knowledge. I have a contact - lets just say he is a investigative journalist who I have been giving my findings to who is just "chomping at the bit" to dig into this issue. I also have an idea to bring my findings and suspicions through another media to most of the country.

    It is now obvious to me that there is something not right about the way this embassy handles work visa applicants and it became even more apparent with your offices refusal to provide the data that I asked for. I can not believe that an office of the Government of Canada is "bilking" truckloads of money from some of the poorest people in the world.

    So I am leaving it in your hands - I want this matter resolved and the answers to the questions asked - sent by courier to
    the farm by 4pm July 3rd or I will take action.

    The farm address is

    943 Regional Road 29
    Arnprior, Ontario
    K7S-3G7


    By the way - this is the location of many rotten strawberries - thank you very much CIC.
    If your office is thinking that this is just another dumb farmer - let it be known that this dumb farmer is not going to give up on this matter.

    Glenn Needham


    End of fax

    July 2

    Send another fax

    Office of Citizens and Immigration Canada





    Sending you another copy of my letter requesting statistics for work visa applications.

    It seems obvious that your office has no intentions of doing anything about this – could not even bother to make the phone call. What exactly are tax payers getting for their money?



    If you have not already gotten the information I requested on its way by courier – then maybe you will need to send someone to the farm to deliver by 4pm Tuesday July 3rd. Then I can show you a large portion of my strawberry crop lying in the fields rotten. I will be sure to take some pictures for my “recourse action” plan.

    Your inactions speak volumes – your refusal to provide the statistics speak enormous volumes. It is apparent that the facts will back up my suspicions.


    I will be at the farm all day tomorrow, if you want to visit to deliver the statistics and see for yourself the extent of wastage as a result of your departments futility.

    This is what to expect at your end as a result of my “take action” plan.

    You will need to hire more staff to deal with possibly hundreds of irate phone calls per day. This number will grow daily if all goes as planned.

    You will need to be sure to have lots of paper in your fax machine and someone there to collect and “process” these faxes each morning – although I doubt anyone else would have any more luck than me getting answers from your department.

    You will need to provide a spokesman to handle the media.

    So if this is what you want – just stay the course and keep doing what you are doing…..

    NOTHING

    Regards,



    Glenn Needham

    Manager

    White Pine Farms

    Arnprior, Ontario





    PS – did anyone there ever figure out who Ginnette Francouer is??


    End of fax



    So that brings us to today - deadline passes - nothing - not even a phone call!

    So this is phase 1 of my recourse plan - to expose what I have found and put it out there for all to see.
    Phase 2 will be the website with everything documented, pictures of thousands of dollars of rotten fruit lying in the fields etc. I will post the link to this website on my big sign at the road and encourage all our farm gate customers to check it out and respond with their questions/concerns to Diane Finley's office. My hope is that they have hundreds of phone calls
    per day - incite a little outrage in the public - get numbers of people demanding the details and maybe then the facts will come forth - and I am confident the facts will speak for themselves - a very high percentage of Jamaicans and Mexicans being approved and virtually no one from the DR. All this from a country that boasts about how everyone is all equal here and that Canada is this great land of opportunity?
    Phase 3 will be the media. Still unsure how exactly to proceed there. Have some ideas but no "homerun" idea yet.


    So now I thank you - DR1.com readers for taking the time to read all this, and encourage you to consider these key points.

    From talking to other people in the same business as me, it is evident that if a foreign worker from Jamaica or Mexico is offered a HRSDC approved job contract, barring anything like a criminal record or health reason, they are almost certainly granted a work visa. From what I have learned now with dealing with the embassy in SD - going 0 for 6 on my applicants (candidate 4 from this year still waiting to apply) virtually no one is getting work visas. They are collecting $130 usd each time and by the sounds of it processing hundreds of applicants per day. Over the course of a year would add up to a pretty hefty total.
    You should also know that this fee is non refundable - regardless of the outcome. So where does all this money collected go - are they trying to pay down Canada's national debt with it?? Unbelievable that they would take this much money from some of the poorest people in the world. I am sure that the average Jamaican is very likely as poor as the average Dominican - what makes them think that Dominicans will not return to their homeland at the end of their work contract and the Jamaicans will??
    Smells of blatant discrimination to me - for what reason is unknown??



    Does anyone know of anyone from the DR who has been issued a work visa and come to Canada for "low skill labor positions"?

    Is there a "quota" and if there is - has there ever been an instance where the embassy stops accepting applications or do they just keep raking in the cash??

    Why is CIC not providing the details to the questions I ask? Are they trying to cover something up?

    If any of this concerns you I ask that you make your concerns heard.

    Fax, email or phone Diane Finley's office and demand answers yourself - maybe if enough noise is made something will pop out??

    E-mail: [email protected]

    Fax: 613-996-9749 (most effective means of getting attention)

    Phone: 613-996-4974


    Thank You

    Glenn Needham

  3. #3
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    Glenn, I have sent an e-mail off to Ms Finely, will follow up with a fax, and also speak with my MP Mr Krampe. My wife is a Dominican Canadian, and her mother is a landed immigrant. Her brother applied for a Vistors Visa and he was denied for the same reason as Trina's sister-in-law. He has a business, is educated, money in the bank, property...etc. The funny thing is last summer we were able to bring two of Yris's cousins up for 6 weeks for language school. Two girls 16 AND 18, Who logically would be a higher rish of staying. Good Luck in your efforts.

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    I'm with you all the way. It is total thievery and discrimination.

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    It would also be a good idea to request the information via the 'Access to information" act (which your journalist friend could do for you) then you will receive a reply (even if just a denial of the information).
    The Human Rights commission might be worth contacting as well re: discrimination (RACE, CREED OR COLOUR).
    RCMP might be another useful contact with allegations of fraudulent practises in the SD and Haitian embassies.
    Don't forget foreign affairs office as well.........

  6. #6
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    I was going to say going the ATIP(access to information) route. What you would do is make a request for all documents pertaining to the applicants file. It is your right to have this info, it will give you all documents, emails, letters ect. pertaining to the case of the applicants - maybe there will be some sort of proof within them that proper consideration wasn't given, and they were just rubber-stamped with a declined decision. Hmm, from what I have seen you are taking the proper route, each time escalating the level of contact. First the embassy, next HQ, next MP, then media. What helps is if you have broad level support and other people who are in the same boat as you. As for how you go about it, what needs to be done is emphasize primarily your loss due to not having workers, and not having access to foreign workers who you believe you can trust. The plight of the dominicans needs to come second. The reason being that you need to demonstrate that you, a canadian, is having his economic situation worsened by such decisions - this is where political intervention can come in, the Minister can over-ride decisions with a signature, but she would probably only do it if it is seen as sticking up for everyday canadians - her job isn't to stick up for dominicans afterall. Another point is that sometimes DMs (deputy ministers), and ADMs (assitant deputy ministers) will have been in positions for a longer time and have better knowledge of the system than ministers (finley has only been there for a few months). Richard Fadden is the DM of CIC, Janice Charette is the DM of HRSDC.

    There are from what I can remember quotas on visas per immigration office, but as it seems they aren't granting many, so I somehow doubt that they are actually reaching their quotas. And you are also right that Mexicans and Jamaicans will have an easier time getting approval - perhaps because larger businesses take on the task and bring many at time (up to hundreds), and also Mexico is part of NAFTA, and Jamaica part of the common wealth - that could have something to do with it.

    It might be worth your while to check with companies who are bringing in foreign temporary workers from mexico, to see what similarities they have, or what kind of representation they have - legal, as well as the size of their buisness. It is widely know that in agriculture there is a shortage of dependable workers, having HRSDC approval should be a very valid point in bringing these workers here. I have a feeling that because you are a smaller operation they might be working on the assumption that they are coming to stay.

    Anyhow I hope that this helps. Best of luck!

  7. #7
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    Isn't there some sort of Freedom of Information Act in Canada?

    Usually all developed countries have some version of FOIA.

    The government has to provide information unless it's classified, and it must be classified by stipulation in the law or general custom, not "suddenly" become classified by the reviewing clerk's decision.

    Usually any citizen, under FOIA, has right to access to the information, directly. It has to be usually oficially sent, registred mail, or with other proof-of-delivery, has to stipulate that the request is made under FOIA (or the local version of FOIA), specify the law, section, paragraph, etc under which the request is being made, AND requests a reply within the law stipulated time.

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    Yes there is, it is referred to as an ATIP request. Doing so could give you some usefull information. If it doesn't, at least you can be happy that you frustrated a few beaurocrats,, because if there is one thing they hate doing, it's ATIP requests. This consists of going through all their emails, and documents between certain dates, looking for relevant info. I say go for it!

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    Yes several months ago I spent about 3 days going through archived files because of a FOIA request. Very annoying.

  10. #10
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    Default work visa

    This is crazy and it smells of blatant discrimination on the part of CIC in relation to workers from Dominican Republic vs Mexico and Jamaica. My friend from DR was denied a visitor's visa (for financial reasons) and if we were to apply again the next time the excuse for denial will likely be that there's no guarantee he'll return to DR. Now my friend wants to apply for a work visa. I have a prospective employer lined up for my friend but after seeing all the problems you have had trying to hire the girl from DR it makes applying for a work visa seem pointless. I live in Alberta and employers can not find people to work here. Employers at McDonalds and Tim Hortons in Fort MacMurry pay their employees $23 an hour just to keep workers from leaving to work in the oilfield (and there's not enough workers in the oilfield either). I can see that it would be easier to hire temporary foreign workers from Mexico as we have what is known as the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) but Jamaica certainly doesn't fit into that category. I take it you had a hard time talking to someone in Haiti? I called there looking for answers regarding a visitor's visa for my friend from DR but of course my french is a little rusty (yes I really do speak french) and the pre recorded message rattled off the french website and email address twice but the english portion was difficult to hear and only repeated once. So needless to say three long distance phone calls later I managed to figure out what I needed between the french and english recordings. I still haven't heard a peep in relation to my email on June 28th to the Consulate in Haiti regarding their decision. As far as hiring foreign workers, I had said this in a thread to Trina regarding her story about this hiring a foreign worker fiasco, that it would be interesting to see how many work visas were issued to exotic dancers over the past few years compared to workers who legitimately want to come to Canada to work. Other things to consider: the nationality of the people working in the consulate in Haiti who make the deicision to deny or accept visas....just wondering if those working at the consulate making the visa decisions may have a certain ancestory thus more favortism toward a visa applicant from one country vs another??? It would be interesting to find out where all the money for the visa applications goes. Please keep us informed on your progress and the responses if any from the Minister regarding this issue. The CIC website invites temporary foreign workers to come here to work. I don't recall anything in the website that said that applicants from the Dominican Republic are not welcome to apply and that they are guaranteed to be denied a visa.

    Good luck and keep up the fight. I will forward our work visa application from here and see what transpires. Maybe there's a larger shortage of workers here which might be taken into consideration???

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