Canadian Immigration News: On September 26, 2022, the government of Canada released a statement that new regulations came into effect in order to protect foreign workers. Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship (IRCC), and Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and Disability Inclusion, announced that new modifications to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations for Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) are now in effect. These 13 new regulation revisions will reinforce TFW safeguards and improve the integrity of the IRCC-managed Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and International Mobility Program (IMP).
Regulations Put into Place
The Canadian government takes its obligations to safeguard TFW extremely seriously. A top goal for the government is to ensure these employees' health and safety while they are in Canada, and it is doing this by adopting proactive measures.
The Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough stated, “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 new rules will improve TFW protection and assist in preventing maltreatment and abuse while they are in Canada. Temporary foreign employees will benefit from this law reform in a number of ways, including increased openness on their rights while working in Canada and improved safeguards in terms of pay, healthcare, and working conditions. The following will be included in the modified regulations:
- Requiring employers to inform all TFWs of their legal rights in Canada. This means that on or before the individual's first day of employment in Canada, employers must now give TFWs a copy of the most updated information on their rights there.
- Employers who bring in foreign workers are required to "reasonably" attempt to guarantee that their staff members work in an environment free from "abuse." To give workers more broad protection, the term "abuse" will now be enlarged to encompass "retaliatory behaviour" or "reprisal."
- Additionally, employers are obligated to use "reasonable endeavors" to ensure that TFWs have access to medical treatment in the event that they are hurt or get ill while on the job.
- Forbidding retaliation by employers against employees, such as against those who file complaints.
- Employment contracts must be in either English or French, contain the signatures of both the employer and the employee, and guarantee employment in the same profession under the same pay and working conditions as those specified in the employment offer.
- Forbidding employers from charging workers recruitment fees and holding them responsible for the actions of recruiters in this regard.
- Additionally, businesses must now provide workers fair access to medical treatments. Employers who participate in the TFW Program must additionally offer private health insurance when necessary.
These guidelines will make it more difficult for dishonest people to participate in the program, and they will make it easier for the program to perform inspections and impose just punishments on those who break the rules. If there is cause to believe that an employer's failure to comply with the new requirements will seriously jeopardize the health or safety of a foreign worker, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) may also halt the completion of any new Labour Market Impact Assessments(LMIAs).
Under a pass/fail system, ESDC will be able to determine whether employees have been paid the going rate for their occupation and if their employment is likely to have a negative impact on the resolution of any ongoing labour disputes. The LMIA will be rejected if the applicant does not meet both requirements.
In general, the criteria and circumstances of the TFW Program and IMP will be more transparent and clear, thanks to these new laws. Employers will be more conscious of their obligations and program guidelines, improving worker protection and boosting program compliance.
These actions go hand in hand with ongoing worker protection programs. For instance, Minister Qualtrough organized the first Ministerial Consultative Roundtable for the TFW Program in July 2022. The first of numerous sessions that will be held over the following three years to solicit direct feedback from stakeholders on how to strengthen and improve the TFW Program for workers, businesses, and their communities, - this conference focused on accommodations.
According to The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Sean Fraser said: “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.”
In previous Canadian Immigration News, to offer all interested parties an opportunity to comment on the rules, the regulatory revisions were first published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, for a period of 30 days, concluding on August 9, 2021. Following the receipt of more than 70 written complaints, changes were made to address the problems raised. On July 6, 2022, the final regulations were released and published in Part II of the Canada Gazette.
The EDSC Adjustments
Government agencies will soon be given more latitude and power to audit companies to make sure that they are adhering to the rules of programs that facilitate the hiring of temporary foreign employees.
The ESDC also makes adjustments to assist with better safeguarding TFWs while enhancing the TFW compliance regime, such as:
- Raising employers' awareness of their obligations to promote compliance with the TFW Program's conditions.
- Improving inspection tools and mandatory training to strengthen the quality and timeliness of said inspections.
- The continual use and implementation of an improved tip line drive operated by live agents.
- Allowing foreign workers to bring up complaints of abuse and misuse of the regulations placed by Temporary Foreign Workers Protections in a confidential manner.
- Expanding communication and collaborations with the consulates of the foreign workers, as well as with provincial and local governments.
On April 1, 2022, ESDC introduced an escalation mechanism to alert provincial stakeholders within 48 hours in cases when a TFW's health and safety are at urgent risk. This will serve to further safeguard the health and safety of TFWs.
Fraser further stated, “ 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.”
Budgeting for Protection of TFW
Canada’s 2022 Budget Plan included a number of proposals to strengthen worker safeguards and lessen administrative requirements for trusted repeat employers in order to significantly enhance the TFW Program. This includes $14.6 million in 2022–2023 to enhance the standard of employer inspections and hold employers responsible for how they treat their employees, as well as $29.3 million over three years to implement 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,” according to Budget 2022.
It is important for companies who are thinking about recruiting TFWs or who have already engaged such workers to guarantee compliance with any newly emerging legal obligations and duties. What it means for those who wish to work in Canada temporarily, is that there is strong legislation in place to protect employees.
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