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Unwanted vacation: family desperate to bring B.C. man home from Mexico

Week-long holiday turns into a month-long ordeal, with bills piling up for Victoria area family

Langford resident Brian Le Lievre and his wife, Michelle, headed to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for a relaxing week-long vacation on April 1. But an unexpected extended stay has seen those days on the beach transformed into stressful, sleepless nights.

When it was time for Le Lievre and his wife to go home, he couldn’t return to Canada because his landed immigrant permit document was out of date. Le Lievre has been stuck there ever since, even though his family was able to return with their dual citizenship.

When Le Lievre first moved to Canada with his family from the Guernsey, Channel Islands in 2002, he was told he could use the document to return to the country if he was away on a trip. He and his wife weren’t able to go on any vacations until recently. He had his landed immigrant permit document ready and booked a trip to Mexico for the family. At the end of January, he found out that he needed a permanent resident card because the document he had was not updated to the current validation. He applied for a permanent residence card in early February and was told he would receive the card within four weeks. Le Lievre grew anxious as the four weeks passed, his Mexico trip was looming, and he still had not received a PR card.

Le Lievre and his wife submitted proof of his payment towards his PR card which he had still not received before his vacation. He had hoped the document he got in the mail upon arrival in Canada would at least be valid since his PR card application had yet to be processed. Le Lievre’s extended family, including his daughter-in-law Arielle Boivin, promised they would keep an eye out for his PR card while he was away.

April 8 was supposed to be their return to Canada but his wife, stayed back to help him. As Le Lievre was denied re-entry, the couple contacted the Canadian Embassy, Immigration Canada, and anyone else they thought could help. The Public Service Alliance of Canada strike only furthered the delays of Le Lievre and his family getting through to someone. Another difficulty the couple faced in Mexico was the language barrier and slow internet. “It was really difficult when everything was in Spanish in the computers and really difficult with the bandwidth to try and download anything, fill it out and resubmit it,” said Boivin.

As his wife headed home on April 11 another obstacle arose for the flight back. They had bought insurance for the flight so they didn’t have to pay for any cancellation or rescheduling fees. Unfortunately, that was not the case, and they couldn’t change their flight times. His wife had to pay out of pocket for a new flight to come back to Canada and will have to do the same for Le Lievre.

Boivin has been placed as Le Lievre’s representative to help him return home. Amongst all the forms she had to fill out and submit, she’s tried to update his personal application and fill out a travel document application which was received by the federal government on May 1.

“There’s been no progress made or way to check into the status because that particular document (the travel document application) is processed in Mexico,” said Boivin. “I keep contacting this one number I found for Mexico, but I have no success. It’s just absolutely ridiculous for anyone to try to navigate these systems.”

Boivin also tried to get in contact with MP Alistair MacGregor’s office in hopes that their case could be expedited. They informed her that roughly four other Canadian citizens are stranded in a similar position to Le Lievre’s. Immigration Canada had a meeting scheduled with the MP to give updates on a potential solution, but due to the federal strike it was cancelled, adding even more delays.

“I can’t fathom how there are four people that are Canadian citizens and pay their taxes, own homes, are part of this country, work hard, and are stranded with no support,” said Boivin, who feels “left in the dark” as she has no idea on the progress of the applications.

The stress only grows for the family with the cost of food and shelter starting to add up. The family has had to move Le Lievre from the Puerto Vallarta hotel where the family was originally staying to one closer to the airport because of expenses. Just the cost of keeping Le Lievre in the two hotels has been $3,600, according to his wife.

“We’ve already bled out so much money for this,” said an exhausted Boivin.

Last week Le Lievre’s wife came down with stress-induced paralysis from dealing with her husband’s situation. Her hands and feet went numb and she had to stay overnight in hospital. Le Lievre is also at risk of losing his job if he doesn’t return home soon.

“We’re kinda losing hope and so are they. He’s been stuck there for over a month now.”

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About the Author: Ella Matte

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