ALBERTA

Two Albertans charged with human trafficking now face labour law offences

06/04/2015 07:03 EDT | Updated 06/04/2016 05:59 EDT
RED DEER, Alta. - Two people accused in a central Alberta human trafficking case involving temporary foreign workers have also been charged with not following provincial labour laws.

In April, the RCMP Serious Organized Crime unit charged Varinder Sidhu and Ravinder Sidhu of Red Deer with offences under the federal Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

The Mounties said they began investigating last year after the workers complained to the province.

The Alberta government said Thursday that it has charged the Sidhus with four employment standards offences involving people who worked at a motel, a liquor store and a convenience store.

The province says seven temporary foreign workers were owed $83,000 in wages, which have since been paid out.

Jay Fisher, a spokesman for the province, said the charges involve more than just not paying someone properly.

He said they include allegations of falsifying employment records and telling workers to not co-operate with investigators.

"These folks were temporary foreign workers. They are protected by the same workplace rights as any other worker," Fisher said Thursday.

The federal charges include organizing the coming into Canada of one or more persons by means of abduction, fraud, deception or use of threat or coercion.

In April, RCMP Insp. Darcy Fleury said Mounties worked closely with the province on the case.

"Human traffickers exploit the most vulnerable people in society, such as migrant workers, and they prey on despair and desperation," Fleury said at the time.

It's not clear when the Sidhus will next appear in court on both sets of charges.

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