New legislation for foreign worker recruitment provides better protection

CIC News
Published: April 29, 2009

The province of Manitoba has implemented new regulations to better protect temporary foreign workers from unscrupulous recruiters and employers that have surfaced in Canada and abroad.  The new legislation is designed to prevent any worker from paying to find a job in Manitoba, requiring recruitment agencies be licensed by the province for better regulation.  National organizations are calling for similar legislation to be enacted across the country.

Manitoba's new Worker Recruitment and Protection Act prohibits recruitment agencies from charging fees to foreign workers; currently one of the most glaring problems with temporary foreign worker recruitment in Canada.

Technically, recruitment agencies are meant to charge Canadian employers to find foreign workers for them to hire.  Nonetheless, there have been cases where recruiters have taken advantage of foreign worker ignorance to this norm, requiring instead that foreign workers pay recruiters to find them jobs in Canada.

To enforce the new legislation which prohibits this, Manitoba now requires that all foreign worker recruitment agencies be registered and licensed by the province.  Employers who wish to hire temporary foreign workers must also be registered.

The Act requires that both employers and recruitment agencies submit detailed records about the place of employment, the workers' duties and wages, and up-to-date contact information for the worker.

"By keeping a registry of where these workers are, who recruited them, and what they were promised when they were hired, you finally have jurisdiction with the political will and regulations to penalize and weed out employers and recruiters who abuse foreign workers," said Wayne Hanley, national president for the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW Canada).

Hanley has called for all provincial and territorial jurisdictions to adopt similar legislation to ensure that human rights of foreign workers are protected across the country.

To ensure that labour-starved employers in Manitoba will still have access to the foreign workers they need, the provincial government provides direct assistance with foreign worker recruitment to registered employers.

"Where employers are unable to meet their labour needs locally, we can connect them directly with skilled workers through established international partnerships that are safe and effective," stated Nancy Allan, Manitoba's provincial Labour Minister.

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