Canada proposes sweeping changes to enhance protections for temporary foreign workers

canada sweeping changes

canada sweeping changes

The Canadian government is taking various steps to implement necessary changes to strengthen protections for temporary foreign workers in the country. As per media reports, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough and Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco Mendicino have announced proposed new regulations to protect temporary foreign workers from any form of mistreatment or abuse during their stay in Canada.

These changes have been introduced in view of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic that put several workers in vulnerable situations. Every year, more than 50,000 foreign workers come to Canada to work in the agricultural sector, accounting for over 60 percent of all workers under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

Key recommendations

To provide them necessary benefits, Ottawa has proposed 14 regulatory amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (Temporary Foreign Workers) under three prominent objectives:

1. Improving protections for temporary foreign workers:

Under this objective, the Canadian government has mandated employers to provide information about Canada’s labour rights to temporary foreign workers. Furthermore, it has introduced regulations for all employers to provide to healthcare services and health insurance when needed. In addition, employers will be prohibited from charging recruitment fees from workers among other changes.

2. Improving Government’s ability to prevent bad actors from participating in the program:

The federal government will ensure measures to strengthen the review of applications from new employers. Authorities can also defer the process if they are found in violation of the process of the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

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3. Boosting Government’s ability to effectively conduct inspections:

The government will take help of third parties like banks and payroll companies for accelerating the pace of inspections. To provide better support and protection to workers, Ottawa is implementing new data capabilities to enhance the identification of cases of fraud and misrepresentation.

Other measures

The Canadian government has also launched some new features on the Job Bank to facilitate better communication between temporary foreign workers seeking jobs, eligible employers, and migrant workers organisations. Earlier, the government launched a number of financial aid schemes, including the $35-million Emergency On-Farm Support Fund, to support employers and workers with the provision of suitable working conditions and reasonable wages.

“Workers also need to be protected from reprisal if they come forward with a complaint, and bad actors need to be prevented from participating in the program. Through these enhanced regulatory amendments, the Government is working towards providing stronger worker protection and ensuring greater employer compliance,” said Minister Carla Qualtrough.

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