Government of Canada strengthens protections for temporary foreign workers as new regulations come into force

GATINEAU, QC, Sept. 26, 2022 /CNW/ - The Government of Canada takes its responsibilities to protect temporary foreign workers (TFWs) very seriously. Ensuring the health and safety of these workers while they are in Canada is a key priority, and the Government is taking concrete action to better support them.

Today, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough and Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) Sean Fraser announced that new amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (Temporary Foreign Workers) are now in force. These 13 new regulatory amendments include measures to strengthen protections for TFWs and will enhance the integrity of the TFW Program and the International Mobility Program (IMP), administered by IRCC.

The new regulations will better protect TFWs and help to prevent mistreatment and abuse during their stay in Canada by:

  • mandating that employers provide all TFWs with information about their rights in Canada;

  • prohibiting reprisal by employers against workers, for instance against those who come forward with complaints; and,

  • prohibiting employers from charging recruitment fees to workers and holding them accountable for the actions of recruiters in this regard.

In addition, employers are now required to provide reasonable access to health care services. Employers using the TFW Program are also required to provide private health insurance when needed.

These regulations will deter bad actors from participating in the program, and will improve the program's ability to conduct inspections and administer appropriate consequences for those who do not follow the rules. Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) can also suspend the processing of any new Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) if there is reason to suspect that an employer's non-compliance with the new conditions would put a foreign worker's health or safety at serious risk.

Overall, these new regulations will ensure greater transparency and clarity on the requirements and conditions of the TFW Program and IMP. Employers will be more aware of their responsibilities and program rules, which will lead to better protection of workers and increased program compliance.

These measures complement other worker protection initiatives already underway. For example, in July 2022, Minister Qualtrough convened the inaugural TFW Program Ministerial Consultative Roundtable. This meeting focused on accommodations and was the first of several meetings expected to take place over the next three years to seek input directly from stakeholders on how to make the TFW Program stronger and more effective for workers, employers and their communities.

ESDC also continues to improve the TFW compliance regime while implementing improvements to help better protect TFWs, including:

  • enhancing inspection tools and mandatory training to strengthen the quality and timeliness of inspections;

  • continuing to leverage an enhanced tip line service including live agents, allowing workers to flag any situation of abuse or misuse of the program in a confidential manner;

  • continuing to raise employers' awareness of their obligations to foster compliance with the TFW Program's conditions; and,

  • expanding collaboration with consulates, as well as provinces and local authorities, to help the Department to identify concerns that need immediate attention and take action.

Quotes

"Everyone deserves to work in dignity, in safety, and in health. With these changes, our Government is strengthening protections for temporary foreign workers. These individuals come to Canada and work for Canadian businesses, and help drive the Canadian economy forward. We have a responsibility to ensure they are protected and respected."
– The Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough

"In Canada, the rights of all workers—including temporary foreign workers—are protected by law. The International Mobility Program (IMP) sets requirements and conditions for hiring TFWs in Canada and issues open work permits to vulnerable employees who are experiencing unjust work environments so 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 is enhancing its capacity to prevent potential mistreatment or abuse during TFWs period of employment in Canada."
– The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Sean Fraser

Quick Facts

  • The regulatory amendments were first published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, for a period of 30 days, ending on August 9, 2021, to give all stakeholders a chance to submit comments about the regulations. Over 70 written submissions were received and subsequent amendments were made to address the issues identified. The final Regulations were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, on July 6, 2022.

  • To help further protect the health and safety of TFWs, on April 1, 2022, ESDC implemented an escalation process to notify provincial stakeholders within 48 hours in situations where the health and safety of a TFW is at immediate risk.

  • Employers who are found to be non-compliant with conditions for the TFW Program or the IMP are listed on a public-facing website.

  • To further improve the TFW Program, Budget 2022 proposed a number of measures to increase protections for workers and reduce administrative burdens for trusted repeat employers. This includes $29.3 million over three years to introduce a Trusted Employer Model that reduces red tape for repeat employers who meet the highest standards for working and living conditions, protections and wages in high-demand fields, and $14.6 million in 2022–23 to make improvements to the quality of employer inspections and hold employers accountable for the treatment of workers.

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SOURCE Employment and Social Development Canada

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