Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Ottawa unveils protections for temporary foreign workers

Farmers who employ temporary foreign workers face a new set of regulations unveiled this week by two federal cabinet ministers.

Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough and the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco Mendicino have made it illegal to try to discipline workers who file a complaint against them.

Employers will be required to provide reasonable access to healthcare and inform workers about their rights in Canada. 

Amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations also ban recruitment fees.

When a migrant worker calls the Temporary Foreign Worker tip line, live agents capable of providing service in multiple languages will pick up the phone. Since its launch in March, the tip line has assisted more than 400 callers. 

New applications to the Temporary Foreign Worker program will undergo greater scrutiny, and new features on Job Bank will help workers connect with eligible companies through a trusted source.

This year’s federal budget included $54.9-million over three years to include inspections ensuring workers have appropriate working conditions and wages. The new regiment reduces prescribed times for those inspections, and third parties, such as banks and payroll companies, will provide documents better identifying fraud and misrepresentation.

The budget also included $49.5-million over three years to support community-based organizations that provide services such as on-arrival orientation and assistance in emergency and at-risk situations.

There is also a $35-million Emergency On-Farm Support Fund to help employers upgrade and improve living quarters.

Between 50,000 and 60,000 foreign agricultural workers arrive in Canada every year, about 43 per cent to work on Ontario farms and greenhouses.