Canada Strengthens Protections for Temporary Foreign Workers

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced reforms to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations regarding Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs). There are 13 reforms designed to support protections for TFWs and improve the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP).

ESDC mentioned these regulations will safeguard TFWs from abuse in Canada by:

  • All TFWs must receive information about their rights in Canada from their employers
  • Employees who come forward with complaints should be protected from employers’ reprisals
  • Keeping employers accountable for recruiting fees charged to workers and prohibiting employers from charging them

A further addition will experience that employers are solely accountable for offering admission to healthcare services for their employees. They must offer private health insurance to be used by employees as required.

The department announces that amendments are designed to prevent bad actors from contributing to the program and will improve the program’s ability to examine workplaces, administer the rules and enforce appropriate consequences for those who select not to follow the rules.

An employer may be prevented from submitting new Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs), a document that proves to hire foreign labour will not damage the Canadian economy or workforce. Any international hires must have a duplicate of this document to get a work permit to enter Canada.

An employer could have their LMIAs suspended if ESDC suspected that they were not complying with the new conditions in a way that endangered the health or safety of foreign workers. Furthermore, ESDC and stakeholders interested in improving the effectiveness of the TFWP held a roundtable discussion recently. It is expected that similar meetings will take place over the years. ESDC has implemented additional measures to improve the TFWP, including:

  • To improve the quality of inspections and their timeliness, enhancements to inspection tools and mandatory training must be implemented
  • By leveraging a live tipline service, workers can flag abuse or misuse of the program in a confidential manner
  • Educate employers about their responsibilities to promote compliance with the TFWP’s terms and conditions
  • By collaborating with consulates, provinces, and local authorities, the department can identify and respond to urgent concerns.

Right of Temporary Foreign Workers

TFWs possess similar rights as Canadian citizens or permanent residents. This concludes that employers are legally obligated to offer a safe working atmosphere that is free from harassment and reprisals. Furthermore, if an employer refuses to pay overtime to an employee as stipulated in the employment agreement, it is illegal. Employees make sure to have a signed copy of this agreement before they first start the job.

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser mentioned in a recent interview that “In Canada, the rights of all the workers including temporary foreign workers are protected by law. The international mobility program defines requirements and conditions for employing TFWs in Canada and offers open work permits to defenseless employees who are facing injustice in the work environment. With these new reforms in place, the federal government of Canada is strengthening its ability to safeguard temporary foreign workers and is advancing its capacity to avert potential mistreatment during TFWs period of employment in Canada.”

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