Canada proposes major changes to temporary foreign worker regulations
The government of Canada is proposing major changes to rules for temporary foreign workers.
One path that temporary workers come to Canada through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). This stream allows companies who want to hire non-Canadians for jobs that Canadian citizens or permanent residents are unwilling to do.
Another way for temporary workers to come to Canada is through the International Mobility Program (IMP). The IMP allows foreigners to work in Canada at jobs where there might be a Canadian available to do the job.
The main difference between these two paths is that the TFWP requires a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) but the IMP does not. An LMIA is a form which an employer completes if looking to hire someone through the TFWP.
Employees had concerns about this process as they are often unable to understand and use their rights. Some major problems noted by temporary foreign workers (TFWs) are listed below.
- Employers were found to be non-complaint with regulations avoiding bans on hiring TFWs. Such employers would continue to hire TFWs through other companies they owned.
- TFWs being unaware of their rights or what they mean.
- TFWs not having access to health care.
- TFWs being charged illegal ‘fees’ by recruiters or employers.
- TFWs fearing employer reprisal if they raise concerns about work conditions.
The government plans to address these concerns to help protect TFWs. The government has a plan to require all employers of TFWs to provide each TFW a paper document that outlines their TFW rights. Employers will also need to post this information in a public space in the workplace.
The government of Canada also plans to initiate the following requirements.
- Make all employers provide an employment agreement to both the employee and the government. The document will confirm that the employee will be working in the same job, have the same working conditions, and same wage, as written in the employment offer.
- Make it clear that the employer provides a workplace free of abuse. Reprisal is also considered abuse.
- Allowing Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to pause an LMIA process if it suspects the employer has been non-compliant with the regulations.
- Create new requirements for granting LMIAs.
- take reasonable efforts to ensure that the workplace is free of abuse;
- show that the employer respects all federal and provincial employment rules; and
- not allowing an affiliate of an ineligible employer to hire TFWs.
- Reduce the time for an employer to respond to a Notice of Preliminary Findings (NoPF) from 30 to 15 days. A NoPF indicates non-compliance concerns. The government hopes that a reduced reply time will allow for a faster resolution.
- Tightening the ban and punishment on employers and recruiters charging TFWs illegal recruiting fees.
- Giving ESDC and IRCC the power to demand documents from third parties to ensure employer compliance.
- Requiring employers to make reasonable efforts to provide access to health care for employees who become sick or injured at work.
- Requiring all employers under the TFWP (except those under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program) to pay for and provide employees with private health insurance, including emergency medical care.