The Canadian government is proposing major changes to rules for temporary foreign workers, according to a recent article in the Canada Gazette.
Temporary workers come to Canada under one of two paths. The first is the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). This stream is for companies who want to hire non-Canadians for jobs that Canadian citizens or permanent residents are unwilling to do. The other is the International Mobility Program, or IMP. This path allows foreigners to work in Canada at jobs even where there might be a Canadian available to do the job.
The major difference between a job under the TFWP and one under the IMP is that the TFWP requires an LMIA but the IMP does not. LMIA stands for Labour Market Impact Assessment. It is a form which an employer seeking to hire through TFWP completes. It shows that the employer tried to, but could not, find a Canadian to take the job.
Employees raised concerns in talks. In particular, they noted TFWs are often unable to understand and use their rights. Major problems included:
Being a TFW in a new country and culture can make one vulnerable. As a result, Canada has decided to strengthen the protections for TFWs. The government plans the following changes:
Requiring all employers of TFWs to provide to each TFW, a paper document that outlines TFW rights. Employers would also have to post this information in a public spot in the workplace.
Reducing the time an employer has to respond to a Notice of Preliminary Findings (NoPF) from 30 days to 15. A NoPF indicates non-compliance concerns. A reduced reply time will allow quicker resolution.
Tightening the ban and punishment on employers and recruiters charging TFWs illegal recruiting fees.
Giving ESDC and IRCC the power to demand documents from third parties, such as banks, to ensure employer compliance.
Requiring employers to make reasonable efforts to provide access to health care to employees who become sick or injured at work. An example might be setting up a phone at the workplace for TFWs to call health services.
Requiring all employers under the TFWP (except those under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program) to pay for and provide employees private health insurance. This insurance must include emergency medical care. Right now, some TFWPs are not required to provide such protection.
The Canadian government accepts that the new regulations may impose greater costs on business. However, outlays are expected to be minimal. For example, an additional 10 minutes to provide the employment agreement and working conditions to each TFW. The benefits will be greater clarity for employers, employees, and government. TFWs in particular will enjoy stronger protections.
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