Canada introduces stronger protections for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Posted October 13, 2022 8:00 a.m. EDT

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) alongside Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations regarding Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs).

In all, 13 amendments aim to strengthen protection for TFWs and improve the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

ESDC says these regulations will protect TFWs from abuse and mistreatment in Canada by:

  • requiring employers to provide all TFWs with information about their rights in Canada;
  • prohibit retaliation by employers against workers, for example against those who complain; and,
  • prohibiting employers from charging workers recruitment fees and holding them accountable for the actions of recruiters in this regard.

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Another addition will see that employers are responsible for providing access to health services for their employees. They must provide private health insurance for employees to use when needed.

The department says the changes are intended to deter bad actors from participating in the program and will improve the program’s ability to inspect workplaces, enforce the rules and administer appropriate consequences for those who choose not to follow the rules.

One possible consequence is the suspension of processing of any new Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), a document that an employer submits to ESDC that proves that the hiring of foreign labor will not have no negative impact on Canada’s workforce or economy. Anyone hired overseas must have a copy of this document to obtain a work permit to enter Canada.

The suspension of LMIAs would occur if ESDC had reason to suspect an employer of not complying with the new conditions at risk to the health or safety of a foreign worker.

In addition to the amendments, a recent roundtable took place between ESDC and stakeholders interested in improving the effectiveness of the TFWP. It is expected that similar meetings will take place over the next few years. ESDC has also put in place additional measures to improve the TFWP such as:

  • improve inspection tools and mandatory training to enhance the quality and timeliness of inspections;
  • continue to take advantage of an enhanced reporting line service including live agents, allowing workers to report any abuse or misuse of the program confidentially;
  • continue raising awareness among employers of their obligations to promote compliance with the terms of the TFWP; and,
  • expand collaboration with consulates, as well as provinces and local authorities, to help the department identify issues that need immediate attention and take action.

Rights of TFWs

TFWs have the same rights as Canadian citizens or permanent residents. This means that employers are legally obligated to provide a safe work environment free from harassment and retaliation.

Additionally, it is illegal for an employer to refuse to pay an employee for work as stated in an employment contract, including overtime. Employees should ensure they have a signed copy of this agreement before the first day of work.

“In Canada, the rights of all workers, including temporary foreign workers, are protected by law. says Immigration Minister Sean Fraser, “The International Mobility Program (IMP) establishes the requirements and conditions for hiring TFWs in Canada and issues open work permits to vulnerable employees who live in work environments unfair so that they can quickly find new employers. With these new regulations in place, the Government of Canada is strengthening its ability to protect temporary foreign workers and improving its ability to prevent potential mistreatment or abuse during the period of employment of TFWs in Canada.

What is the PTET?

The TFWP is designed to fill urgent gaps in the Canadian workforce by allowing employers to hire from abroad. However, the employer must be able to demonstrate a real need to take this step by obtaining a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). Without one, they should only hire Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Unlike other immigration programs, there is no cap on the number of TFWs who can enter Canada.

Schedule a Free Work Permit Consultation with Cohen Immigration Law Firm

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