Temporary foreign worker couple from Mexico in employment limbo

·2 min read
Ana Margarita Muñoz Grijalva, left, and Daniel Salinas Reyes, right, have been working on P.E.I. as temporary foreign workers, but after a paperwork mixup with their new employers, they are facing months with no work or income.  (Laura Meader/CBC - image credit)
Ana Margarita Muñoz Grijalva, left, and Daniel Salinas Reyes, right, have been working on P.E.I. as temporary foreign workers, but after a paperwork mixup with their new employers, they are facing months with no work or income. (Laura Meader/CBC - image credit)

A couple from Mexico with a newborn baby who have been working on Prince Edward Island under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is facing months of unemployment after what they believe was a paperwork mix-up.

Daniel Salinas Reyes and Ana Margarita Muñoz Grijalva both worked at a lobster plant in Murray Harbour for the past few years, but a recent change in jobs and delays with paperwork have left them without work permits.

"I like [to] work here, because it's ... better pay and it's a better place to stay," said Reyes, talking to CBC News at the couple's apartment in Summerside.

They moved to Summerside because they thought they could work there year-round at Summerside Seafood Supreme, with Daniel starting in February. But when they arrived, they found the manager who had hired them had retired. They believe important paperwork was lost.

"And when we go to the company, the new manager [says]: 'No, we don't have work permit for you; we don't have [anything] for you," said Grijalva.

"They tell us, 'You can come any time to start work, and it's not true,'" Reyes said.

'Should reflect their humanity'

CBC News got in touch with the former manager and another staff member at Summerside Seafood Supreme: both say it looks like there was confusion over employment start dates for the couple.

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

The plant said it has now submitted their names under the federal labour market program, but there are still long delays with work permits.

It all means Grijalva won't be able to work until the fall, and it will likely be this winter before Reyes can start at the seafood plant.

Sobia Ali-Faisal is an advocate with BIPOC USHR, which stands for Black, Indigenous, People of Colour United for Strength Home Relationship. She said temporary foreign workers need more stability.

"We should be thinking about their welfare, their safety, their security, in the same way we think about our own, and the processes ... the Temporary Foreign Worker Program itself, should reflect their humanity," Ali-Faisal said.

Ready and willing now

Summerside Seafood Supreme said it was hoping to have the couple working sooner, and the local MP's office is trying to speed up the process.

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

The couple say they used all their money to move to Summerside from Murray Harbour, so it's been tough getting by.

The baby's grandmother came to P.E.I. from Mexico to help with the baby, so the couple is ready and willing to work now.

They had been planning to apply for permanent residency in Canada, but for now they're stuck waiting for approvals just to start work.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting