Toronto Star reporters win labour journalism award

Toronto Star reporters Robert Cribb and Dale Brazao have won the SONG Labour Journalism Award for their articles about the abuse and exploitation of nannies.

The award is presented annually to recognize journalism about the working lives of people in Canada.

A Toronto Star press release says:

“Brazao and Cribb wrote a series of articles exposing the abuse and exploitation of nannies and other foreign caregivers. The stories revealed serious flaws in Canada’s immigration and labour laws and prompted dramatic action by both the Ontario and federal governments.

“The reporters discovered a group of nannies who were virtually imprisoned by the recruiter who had taken thousands of dollars in payments for non-existent jobs, seized their passports and kept them in a basement apartment doing casual work. This led to other nannies coming forward with more stories of abuse.

“The Toronto Star’s series was a solid investigation of a complex and little-known story of injustice that prompted a reluctant provincial government to change legislation in an effort to safeguard vulnerable workers,” noted judges Doug Edgar of the Owen Sound Sun-Times, Mirko Petricevic of Waterloo Region Record and Sean Bray of the Glengarry News.

“The nannies’ treatment reminds us of why workers fought to unionize in the first place, and that exploitation of the disadvantaged can occur both here and now if it is allowed.”

“As a result of the series of stories, the Ontario government passed laws against illegal recruiting practices with fines and jail terms for recruiters who charge nannies to find them work. Penalties were also put in place for any recruiter caught seizing nannies’ travel documents.

“The federal government reacted to the series by introducing a tough package of measures to prevent recruiters bringing caregivers to Canada with bogus contracts.”