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Canada Revises Immigration Laws to Protect Foreign Workers

New updates to Canada's Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations aim to protect temporary foreign workers and ensure program integrity.

Canada Revises Immigration Laws to Protect Foreign Workers

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations' new updates include protecting temporary foreign workers, ensuring the integrity of the International Mobility Program (IMP) and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), and addressing some technical problems.

To protect temporary foreign workers:

1. Providing temporary foreign workers with knowledge about their rights in Canada

Foreign workers on temporary visas have a right to know their rights in Canada. As a result, the employer must give the foreign worker the most recent information regarding their legal options in Canada. The employer must provide access to this information throughout the temporary foreign worker's employment.

Here are the rights you need to know while working in Canada as a temporary foreign worker.

Your employer needs to:
  • Notify you of your legal rights.
  • Provide a copy of your employment contract that has been signed before you apply for a work permit.
  • Pay you for your work following the terms of your employment contract (including overtime labour, if it is specified there).
  • Provide you with access to a workplace free from harassment.
  • Follow the employment and hiring guidelines in the province or territory where you are employed.
  • Assist you in obtaining medical care if you are harmed or ill at work.

Your employer cannot:
  • Forcefully require you to perform risky tasks or tasks that your employment contract forbids.
  • Force you to work while being ill or injured.
  • Force you to perform work that is not authorized under your employment contract.
  • Punish you for speaking up about abuse, dangerous work conditions, substandard housing, or assisting a government inspector during an inspection.
  • Take away your work permit or passport.
  • Deport you from Canada or have your immigration status changed.
  • Make you pay back any fees relating to your recruitment that they may have paid to hire you.

2. Providing an employment agreement to the temporary foreign worker

An employment agreement with the temporary foreign worker is now a requirement when a company recruiting under the TFWP submits their request for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). On or before the first day of work, the temporary foreign worker must get a signed copy of the employment contract from the employer.

LMIA employer compliance requirements are expended. Employers who hire temporary foreign workers now have more LMIA compliance requirements to meet due to regulatory changes. With this change, it is anticipated that temporary foreign workers will have a better knowledge of their pay and the tasks they will be completing.

3. Adding "reprisal" to the definition of “abuse” of temporary foreign workers

4. Employers are not allowed to collect or charge fees

The following fees are prohibited under this amendment: employer compliance fees, fees for the supply of services linked to an LMIA, and fees for recruiting.

5. Protecting the health and safety of temporary foreign workers

Now, when a temporary foreign worker is hurt or becomes unwell at work, all employers covered by the TFWP and the IMP must reasonably provide access to health care services.

For the duration that the temporary foreign worker is not covered by their provincial or territorial health insurance system, all TFWP employers must obtain and pay for private health insurance covering emergency medical care.

To protect the integrity of the programs:

Employment and Social Development Canada and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) now have the authority to request that any third party provide any document in their possession that relates to the employer's compliance with regulatory requirements to support employer inspections, without the consent of the employer or worker.

The processing of an LMIA request may now be suspended by Employment and Social Development Canada if there is cause to believe that the employer is not in compliance with certain requirements.

Employment and Social Development Canada is now authorized to gather personal data from employers and temporary foreign employees to check whether an employer follows IMP's requirements.

Other technical amendments:

In the province or territory where the temporary foreign worker will work, employers must follow all provincial and territorial employment and recruitment rules, including those that address temporary foreign employees.

Removing the provisions of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations that relate to employer compliance reviews since the inspection authorities are more effective for detecting employer non-compliance.

Employers should review the new regulations and put best practices into place if they are hiring foreign workers or having foreign workers on staff.

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