Running from the Insurance Broker

by Marta Almeida

Thiago came to Canada when he was only 22. Fleeing the economic crisis in Brazil, from a town called Governador Valadares, he came to try for a better life in North America. The United States was out of the question but, at the time, Brazilians did not need visas for Canada.

As with many young people from Brazil, Thiago found work in the construction industry, where there were jobs for those who did not have a Social Insurance Number. He worked hard the whole day chopping wood in a small company that supplied other carpentry companies. The fear of being deported by Immigration was so strong that Thiago was always on alert while he worked, watching everything that was going on in every corner of the company. If he detected any suspicious activity, he was prepared to run.

On a very busy day, he became suspicious when a well-dressed man arrived at the company. He immediately tried to discover who he was. Still a novice at English, he focused on key words to try to understand what was going on. Immigration, Social Insurance Number, OHIP were signs that trouble was coming and when he heard the man speak of “insurance” and give a document to the boss, Thiago panicked.

“They want the workers’ Social Insurance Numbers!” he whispered to himself.

He was certain. He ran out back, using a thoroughly planned escape route and disappeared! The next day, still suspicious, he spent hours watching his workplace from a distance, to make sure he could return. When he saw that all was quiet, he went to the boss who soon demanded an explanation for his disappearance the day before.
“Uai, I was afraid of the immigration guy who came to collect the Social Insurance Numbers …”

-“Social Insurance Numbers? No, Thiago… That was just the broker coming with the renewal for my Business Insurance!”