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Government of Canada proposes new regulations to improve protection of temporary foreign workers

GATINEAU, QC - The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for further action by the Government of Canada and its partners to improve the protection of temporary foreign workers. Year after year, these workers come to Canada to support our agriculture and agri-food industry and contribute greatly to Canada's food security. Their hard work and expertise has been instrumental over the years and especially during the pandemic, and they deserve to be safe.

The Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, and the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marco Mendicino, announced proposed new regulations to help prevent the mistreatment or abuse of temporary foreign workers during their stay in Canada. They outlined 14 regulatory amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (Temporary Foreign Workers), with three key objectives:

  1. Improving protections for temporary foreign workers by mandating employers to provide temporary foreign workers with information about their rights in Canada; prohibiting reprisal by employers against workers who come forward with complaints; and, putting into regulation key requirements for all employers to provide reasonable access to health-care services, and for employers to provide health insurance when needed. The proposed changes would also prohibit the charging of recruitment fees to workers, and hold employers accountable for the actions of recruiters in this regard.
  2. Improving the Government's ability to prevent bad actors from participating in the program by providing authorities that will strengthen the assessment of applications from new employers and deferring the processing of a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) if non-compliance is suspected.
  3. Strengthening the Government's ability to effectively conduct inspections. This includes reducing the prescribed timelines and involving third parties (e.g., banks and payroll companies) to provide documents to support inspections.

In addition to today's announcement, the Government of Canada has launched new features on Job Bank that enable temporary foreign workers to search for jobs from eligible employers. These features will help workers, and the migrant worker organizations that support them, connect with employers through a trusted source.

The pandemic has further highlighted the need to better identify misuse of the program that puts workers in vulnerable situations and to better support workers seeking help. As part of the Government's strengthened efforts to better support employers and workers for the 2021 season, new data capabilities leveraging payroll data are being deployed to better identify cases of fraud and misrepresentation, and improvements were made to the temporary foreign worker tip line, with the addition of live agents able to offer services in multiple languages. Since launching the enhanced tip line in March, more than 400 callers have been assisted in submitting their report of abuse, referred to other appropriate departments, or had general questions about their rights in Canada answered.

These changes complement other federal government actions introduced this year to better support temporary foreign workers. Budget 2021 announced $49.5 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to support community-based organizations in the provision of migrant worker-centric programs and services, such as on-arrival orientation services and assistance in emergency and at-risk situations, through the new Migrant Worker Support Program. Budget 2021 also announced $54.9 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to increase inspections of employers and ensure temporary foreign workers have appropriate working conditions and wages. Additionally, the Government launched a $35-million Emergency On-Farm Support Fund that supports employers who provide accommodations to upgrade and improve living quarters to ensure workers are safe and healthy.

Source : Cision

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