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No evidence BC gov't investigated recruiters charging temp foreign miners produced

The provincial government is refusing to release details of its investigation into allegations miners coming to British Columbia are paying recruiters in China up to $12,500 for their positions.

A Freedom of Information Act request to the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training was initially returned with only the initial press release from the Employment Standards Branch saying an investigation had determined the miners did not pay the fees.

The request asked for a report on the investigation and any documents related to it.

Along with the press release, the ministry included emails regarding media interest in the case.

Upon a request for more information, the ESB said it does not release details of investigations.

Ministry of Jobs communications representative David Currie reiterated the government stance an investigation had been completed and said no more information would be released at this time.

"You would have had the opportunity to get that through the FOI," said Currie. "If that's what is allowed to be severed for the public record... then that's all there is that's going to be released."

Upon being pressed to present proof the investigation was done, Currie said, "That's all you're getting at this point."

Earlier this year the United Steelworkers Union complained about the integrity of the investigation after similar requests for information were denied.

"We got some information from the ministry that was very vague," said USW spokesman Scott Lunny. "It doesn't sound like they talked to anybody overseas at all, that they didn't really talk to any of the workers and they didn't really talk to anybody... maybe they read a couple news articles or something."

A separate FOI request to see eight years of records of government correspondence between Canadian Dehua Mines, a sister company in HD Mining, was returned with one email from an ESB officer to the companies consisting mainly of links to government websites.

The November 2012 email also contained three attached PDFs labeled "paying wages, deductions from wages and foreign workers."

HD Mining has been at the centre of controversy for applying to bring 201 miners from China to work at their Tumbler Ridge project.

An FOI release in March revealed Canadian Dehua had also applied for 95 such workers.

Both companies said they do not charge recruitment fees to their workers.

Jeremy Nuttall covered the Chinese miner temporary foreign worker controversy in B.C. for The Tyee and now reports for 24 Hours in Vancouver. Read his previous Tyee articles here.

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