‘Technical glitch’ means long-haul trucker can’t take job waiting for him, and must return to India

Published: April 24, 2014

Immigration lawyer Richard Kurland with client Bhupinder Singh Brar at the CBSA office at the Pacific Highway Border Crossing in Surrey, BC Wednesday, April 23, 2014. Jason Payne/ PNG

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

Long-haul trucker Bhupinder Singh Brar is in high demand for Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program — yet the Canada Border Services Agency is deporting him.

The 28-year-old from Punjab has nearly three years of experience driving across Canada and the U.S. He travels so much for work he has homes in both Brampton, Ont., and Surrey.

Brar spent the last two years working for Surrey’s Supreme Chain Logistics Ltd., and now Surrey’s Fast Freight Transport Ltd. wants to hire him. The company is in such dire need of drivers that a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) was issued in a matter of days, stating the company meets the requirements for the foreign worker program.

But when Brar went to the border to get a new work permit, he was instead told he didn’t meet the LMO requirements and was forced to purchase a plane ticket back to India by May 3.

According to Brar’s lawyer, Richard Kurland, this all comes down to a “technical glitch.”

One section of the LMO states the worker must have a driver’s licence and air brake endorsement from ICBC, while another section states the worker must simply have a Canadian commercial driver’s licence with air brake endorsement, which Brar has — from Ontario.

But the deportation order states he doesn’t meet the requirements because he doesn’t have the ICBC endorsement.

According to Kurland, the fiasco could have been avoided altogether if the CBSA officer had been allowed to call and clarify the circumstances with the Service Canada employee who completed the LMO.

“The holistic problem is that the government departments are not allowed to talk to one another,” said Kurland. “The absurd design gives an absurd result. It happens across the country day in, day out. This is just an example that we caught.”

Furthermore, Brar’s lack of an ICBC permit shouldn’t matter, said Kurland.

“When you have a driver’s permit you’re legally allowed to drive across all of Canada,” he said. “An ICBC driver’s permit or Ontario permit is neither here nor there.”

Yet another “goofy” aspect, according to Kurland, is that ICBC is willing to issue Brar a licence, but he’s caught in a “catch-22” because in order to issue it ICBC needs a work permit, but CBSA won’t issue a work permit without a B.C. licence.

“The system is so complex these days … that the foreign worker gets trapped,” said Kurland. “(He) somehow ends up on the technical foul, resulting in an immediate plane ride away from Canada.”

“They shut the door and threw away the key.”

Brar, who’s been unable to work for more than a month, has been left to devote countless hours travelling back and forth to the border trying to resolve the issue.

“I want to stay here and I want to do work here — I don’t want to go,” he said Wednesday from outside the CBSA offices at the Pacific Border Crossing.

“I have a very good record, no accident, no tickets … I am responsible.”

Brar’s Surrey employers also vouched for him, saying he’s perfectly qualified with the Ontario licences and endorsements, alongside his exemplary record.

According to Kurland, the only thing that can save Brar from deportation now is if Immigration Minister Chris Alexander steps in and revokes the order.

“It’s now up to the immigration minister,” said Kurland. “And the irony is, this is precisely the occupation (needed in Canada) … the idea here is to facilitate entry of long-haul truckers that are in a genuine chronic shortage.”

“It’s the guy’s life .. he’s done nothing wrong.”

Related stories:

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