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Canada to make major changes to temporary foreign worker regulations

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According to a Canada Gazette article, the Canadian government proposes major changes in rules for temporary foreign workers.

Two routes allow temporary workers to come to Canada. The first is the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). This stream is intended for companies that want to hire non-Canadians to perform jobs that Canadian citizens and permanent residents are unable to do. The other is the International Mobility Program, or IMP. This allows foreigners to work in Canada even if there is no Canadian available for the job.

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The major difference between a job under the TFWP and one under the IMP is that the TFWP requires an LMIA but the IMP does not. LMIA stands for Labour Market Impact Assessment. This is the form that an employer uses to hire through TFWP. It indicates that the employer attempted to find a Canadian candidate for the job but was unsuccessful.

During talks, employees raised concerns. They pointed out that TFWs often fail to understand and exercise their rights. These are the major problems:

Employers found previously to be in violation of regulations that prevent them from hiring TFWs were exempted from bans. These employers hire through companies they own.
TFWs not being aware of their rights and what they mean.
TFWs do not have access to proper health care.
Employers and recruiters are charging illegal “recruiting fees” to TFWs.
TFWs are afraid of employer reprisal if their concerns are raised about working conditions. Employees are afraid of being retaliated against if they raise concerns about working conditions.
One can be vulnerable if one is a TFW in another country or culture. Canada is now enhancing protections for TFWs. These are the changes that Canada’s government intends to make:

Employers of TFWs are required to give each TFW a copy of a document outlining TFW rights. This information would be posted in a prominent place in the workplace by employers.

All employers must provide an employment agreement to the worker as well as the government. This document confirms that the employee will work in the same job, under the same working conditions, and receive the same wages as the offer.
It is important to make it clear that the employer ensures that there are no instances of abuse in the workplace. Reprisal can also be considered abuse. Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), may pause processing an LMIA if it suspects that the employer is not in compliance with the regulations.
New requirements to grant LMIAs. These include making reasonable efforts to ensure that there is no abuse in the workplace; ensuring that all federal and provincial employment rules are respected; not allowing any affiliate or alter-ego to an ineligible employer hire TFWs.
Reduce the time it takes for an employer to respond to a Notice Of Preliminary Findings. (NoPF) is reduced from 30 days down to 15. A NoPF is a sign of non-compliance. You will get a quicker resolution if you respond sooner.

Employers and recruiters who charge TFWs illegally for recruiting fees should be punished and banned.

ESDC and IRCC have the power to request documents from third parties (e.g banks) to ensure compliance by employers.

Employers must make every effort to ensure that employees are able to access health care when they become sick or hurt at work. One example would be to provide a telephone at work for TFWs to dial health services.

All employers covered by the TFWP (except for those who are part of the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program), must provide private health insurance to their employees. This insurance must cover emergency medical care. Some TFWPs do not have to offer this protection at the moment.

Canadian officials accept that new regulations could result in higher costs for businesses. The expected outlays will be minimal. It will take an extra 10 minutes to give each TFW the employment agreement and work conditions. Employers, employees, as well as the government, will see greater clarity. TFWs will be particularly protected.

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