Dhalla denies allegations two nannies mistreated
Published Tuesday, May 5, 2009 10:03PM EDT
Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla says she has hired a lawyer to defend her reputation, after a newspaper reported allegations by two former nannies of mistreatment by her family.
The two caregivers were apparently hired to take care of Dhalla's mother, Tavinder Dhalla, at her Mississauga, Ont., home.
But speaking to the Toronto Star, the nannies allege they had their passports improperly seized by Dhalla, that they worked 12-16 hours per day for $250 per week and were made to do non-care giver jobs.
One nanny alleged she had to clean a chiropractic clinic run by Dhalla's brother, Neil Dhalla, and shine his shoes.
"I take the assertions in today's Toronto Star story very seriously. I have hired a lawyer to vigorously defend my reputation and ensure the facts of this matter are fully explored and corrected," Dhalla, 35, said in a written statement issued Tuesday.
The newspaper has written extensively about federal agencies failing to protect the rights of migrant nannies, who are sometimes brought to Canada for work under false pretences.
The two nannies are 31-year-old Magdalene Gordo and 37-year-old Richelyn Tongson.
Dhalla has flatly denied the allegations, and said she had nothing to do with employing the nannies.
"Anyone who has ever worked in our home has been treated with a lot of love, with a lot of care and compassion and money has never, ever been withheld from anyone," Dhalla told the Star
Dhalla's brother has also denied any wrongdoing in a telephone interview with CTV News.
"These are clearly baseless allegations, and they can't simply bring my sister into the picture," he said.
Dhalla is the Liberal critic for youth and multiculturalism and represents the Ontario riding of Brampton-Springdale.
Newly confirmed Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said Monday he's looking into the matter.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said he was not aware of the specific allegations levelled against Dhalla and her family, and would not speak about that specific case. But he said employers should not hold the passport of a foreign worker.
"Employers should not be taking their employees' passports and that's the kind of tactic which a lot of, which some caregivers indicate makes them feel that they're especially vulnerable -- that if they don't have access to their own travel documents they can be easily exploited," Kenney told reporters Monday, outside the House of Commons.
The Commons standing committee on citizenship and immigration has studied the issues surrounding temporary foreign workers for the past year, and is expected to release a report on Wednesday.
Agencies estimate as many as 30,000 live-in care givers come to Canada each year.
With a report by CTV's Rosemary Thompson in Ottawa