Trucking company AYR Motor Express is taking legal action against the federal government following a ban on the Woodstock-based firm from the temporary foreign worker program, a decision that AYR deems unfair and which could cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In July, Minister of Employment and Workforce Development, Maryann Mihychuk, alleged that AYR did not pay transportation costs for foreign workers and deducted from employees’ wages without written agreement. Mihychuck barred AYR from employing temporary foreign workers, writing in a letter to the company, “I have concluded that you gave the department false, misleading or inaccurate information when requesting to employ more foreign workers.”
AYR had used the temporary foreign worker program since 1999, filling short-term trucking vacancies with overseas workers.
The company believes it provided the government with all the necessary documentation proving it was not breaching regulations, following the launch of an investigation in November 2014. Now, in a lawsuit filed with the Court of Queens Bench, AYR claims the government failed to inform the company why they were being investigated.
In addition to being unable to employ new temporary foreign workers since the ban, leading to a chronic worker shortage, AYR claims its reputation has been damaged.
Talking to CBC News, Mihychuck defended the ban, saying, “"I took a decision based on facts and evidence, and I stand by my decision.
"I take the integrity of the temporary foreign worker program very seriously."
The government’s investigation into AYR was instigated by former employment minister Jason Kenney in the wake of media coverage of nationwide abuse of the temporary foreign worker program.
AYR has previous form with taking legal action against the government. In April 2015 it filed for a judicial review after it was listed on the Employment and Workforce Development Department website as a company that had broken the rules of the temporary foreign worker program. The firm was removed from the list in October 2015 but the judicial review was dismissed in August 2016.