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Former college employee linked to foreign worker scam - Lloydminster Meridian Booster - Alberta, CA




Murray Crawford

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A former Lakeland College employee is under investigation in an alleged immigration scam that has resulted in charges against three people.

RCMP investigators from Calgary Immigration and Passport Section laid the charges on June 13 against three individuals related to an ongoing investigation into foreign nationals from Poland and the Ukraine who were brought into Canada under a student visa, but placed in the workplace by Kihew Energy Services of St. Paul.

According to the RCMP, Kihew placed ads in a Polish newspaper and website to recruit European welders and machinists to come and work in Canada.

In December 2005 the first group of 60 foreign workers arrived in Alberta with student visas indicating they were taking either Technical Welding or English as a second language (ESL) at the Lloydminster or Vermilion campus' of Lakeland College.

It is alleged there was an arrangement made between an individual who was employed at the college and Kihew Energy Services. Police said the individual, who has since been terminated by the college, sent letters to Canada Immigration confirming the foreign nationals as students training for either ESL or welding at the college.

The college had no knowledge of the individual's actions.

Wendy Plandowski, Lakeland College's director of community relations and Lloydminster campus principal, said in a release this incident is before the courts and the college will reserve comment so the rights of all parties are treated fairly and without prejudice. The release also said the college has co-operated fully with authorities throughout the investigation and will continue to do so.

"The college has been very proactive in ensuring we've done all the correct things," said Plandowski.

Police said charges against the individual are under consideration. Only some of the foreign workers attended a few classes of ESL at Lakeland, but none of the foreign workers ever attended the college for technical welding classes, as was indicated on their student visa.

"It was one individual who was working outside their responsibilities," said Sgt. Patrick Webb, RCMP Strategic Communications. "Charges are under consideration, we're looking at this individual if they were more of a witness or more of a perpetrator, that is what is under examination."

Police said instead of attending college, the foreign workers were contracted out by Kihew to several northern Alberta businesses, which were charged a much higher hourly rate for the services of each foreign worker than Kihew paid to the workers.

It is also alleged Kihew profited over $1 million from April 2006 to September 2006 by sub-contracting the foreign workers to various companies.

According to police, the foreign workers were told by Kihew they could legally work in Canada and after six months would be able to bring their families to reside with them in Canada. They had to sign a contract to work in Canada, which if breached, would result in a fine of $25,000 and/or deportation from the country.

The foreign nationals were provided with accommodations, according to investigators, where up to nine workers had to share three-bedroom apartments. They were also instructed not to discuss their wages or the arrangements of how they came to be in Canada.

The three face charges relating to improper documents and organizing entry to Canada by threat, deception or fraud under the Immigration Refugee Protection Act and possession of property obtained by a crime under the Criminal Code of Canada.

Father John Lipinski 43 of St. Paul, Angela Lipinski, 42 of St. Paul and Calvin Steinhauer, 38 of Goodfish Lake all face charges.

Father Lipinski was a Ukrainian Orthodox priest with parishes in St. Paul and Bonnyville. He has since been relieved of his duties by the church. He and Steinhauer were listed as directors of Kihew energy services while Angela is his wife.

The three are due in court in Edmonton on July 25.


Economic sectors

Agriculture and horticulture workers and General relevance - all sectors

Content types

Documented cases of abuse

Target groups

Public awareness and NGOs/community groups/solidarity networks

Geographical focuses