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BEHIND THE SCENES: Burlington business owner ‘blindsided’ after foreign worker required to leave Canada

In each “Behind the Scenes” segment, Village Media's Scott Sexsmith sits down with one of our local journalists to talk about the story behind the story.

In each “Behind the Scenes” segment, Village Media's Scott Sexsmith sits down with one of our local journalists to talk about the story behind the story.

These interviews are designed to help you better understand how our community-based reporters gather the information that lands in your local news feed. You can find more Behind the Scenes from reporter across Ontario here

Today's spotlight is on's Laura Broadley, whose story 'Burlington business owner ‘blindsided’ after foreign worker required to leave Canada' was published on Feb. 20.

Here is the original story if you need to catch up:​

When Mike Marcolin hired an international student to work in the kitchen at QB Sports in January 2023, he didn’t foresee his employee being required to leave the country a year later. 

What exactly happened and why his employee had to leave is still not clear to Marcolin. 

“This is so technical,” he said. “I’m still trying to put pieces together.”

From what Marcolin understands, his employee’s work permit expired in January, but he wasn’t aware of it because of technicalities in the paperwork. The worker was required to leave Canada for at least six months.

As part of the process to hire a foreign worker QB Sports advertised the open position locally to see if any Canadian citizens could fill the vacancy, but they didn’t have any luck.

The person he hired was uniquely qualified for the kitchen position and Marcolin and his business partners invested in training him and even had the idea to start a catering business out of QB Sports. 

“We got a guy who’s willing to work, he’s an upstanding person, wonderful person, who’s bringing something to QBs that’s very valuable. I can’t replace him right now, and he’s gone for at least six months and I don’t know if he’ll ever come back,” Marcolin said.

Marcolin spent thousands of dollars on consultants to see if they could help his employee stay and work in Canada, but it didn’t work out.

The whole process has made Marcolin and his business partners feel “blindsided.”

“We’re just putting 100 per cent of our faith in this person and then all of a sudden this comes out of nowhere,” he said. 

The restaurant industry was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic. Along with the financial investment of training, the extra money spent by QB Sports on trying to figure out the work permit has made an impact on a small business that is emerging from the COVID-19 period.

“The inflation has been really difficult, and anybody that goes to a store shopping knows. The bottom line is shrinking. For us to go out and spend money on bringing foreign workers in, that’s a very difficult decision. If we know it’s going to benefit us, we will,” Marcolin said. “Extra money is not available to spend on immigration, especially if it’s going to backfire.” 

As a small business, the owners of QB Sports need to be confident their investment is worth it.

“There’s something wrong with our system when you have somebody who wants to work, is here legally, and you just tell him he can’t come back on a technicality. This was a technicality, and I know (the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) doesn’t care about technicalities, but I do,” Marcolin said. “I’m not throwing (IRCC) under the bus at all because they’re doing what they’re supposed to do.”

In general, before hiring anyone, employers should find out if they need a Labour Market Impact Assessment to hire a foreign worker. Employers looking to attract international workers can also consult the IRCC’s virtual assistant for basic information on hiring, said IRCC spokesperson Erin Kerbel.

“Employers can contact the International Mobility Workers Unit for an opinion on whether their worker is eligible for an exemption from a work permit or a Labour Market Impact Assessment. To access this service, the worker in question must be located outside Canada and from a visa-exempt country. Some employers may be eligible to access dedicated immigration support through the Dedicated Service Channel under the Global Skills Strategy,” she said. 

Kerbel also noted that on its website, the IRCC has a roadmap on how to hire foreign workers, as well as frequently asked questions that employers can reference