Quebec announces new regulations to protect temporary foreign workers

Alexandra Miekus
Published: November 28, 2019

Pour lire cet article en français, cliquez ici.

The Government of Quebec has announced new regulations to protect temporary foreign workers from questionable practices by recruiters and personnel placement agencies and employers.

Under the new measures, personnel placement and recruitment agencies for temporary foreign workers will need a permit to operate. Agencies that already offer services will now have to apply to the provincial commission responsible for labour standards in the province, the CNESST, for a permit between January 1 and February 14, 2020, to legally continue their activities.

The CNESST will manage the permit system and monitor the actions of recruiters and employers to make sure they comply with the regulation.

“These new rules will ensure that agency workers and temporary foreign workers are entitled to fair and equitable working conditions that allow them to enjoy a positive work experience,” said Jean Boulet, Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity at a press conference announcing the new measures.

Licenses could be suspended or revoked if an agency fails to comply with the new rules, which include conditions such as:

  • providing foreign workers with a document detailing their working conditions applicable within the client company
  • ensuring that its employees or any person who advises, assists or represents another person in an immigration application has the required accreditation.

In addition to these obligations, recruitment agencies and client companies will become jointly liable for temporary foreign workers.

Agencies will be required to provide a $15,000 security deposit that will be used to compensate workers in the event of non-payment of amounts due to them by their employer under Quebec's labour standards Act.

As of January 1, recruitment agencies will also be prohibited from paying workers a lower salary than that of the staff of the client company, insofar as they perform the same tasks in the same establishment.

The employer will be able to take into account the worker's experience and skills to determine the wage, but disparity based solely on employment status will no longer be accepted.

In addition to establishing licensing obligations for agencies, the new measures also regulate the conduct of employers.

Employers of temporary foreign workers will be prohibited from charging fees other than those authorized under a Canadian government program. They will not be able to keep personal property or property belonging to temporary foreign workers, such as passports or official documents.

Employers will also be required to provide CNESST with information regarding the arrival and departure dates of temporary foreign workers.

“So, if I summarize, the main advantages of this regulation are, one, to make it much more difficult to set up a fraudulent, or delinquent, or clandestine agency, and often to improve the working conditions of employees, to put an end to practices that have a negative impact,” Boulet said.

“It is essential that all those who contribute to Quebec’s development be able to do so with adequate protection.”

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