March 31, 2023

What rights do I have as a Canadian temporary foreign worker?

As a temporary foreign worker in Canada, it is essential to know your rights and what your employer is required to do to comply with the standards set forth by the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and the International Mobility Program (IMP). These programs aim to ensure that foreign nationals working in Canada are given the same rights and protections as Canadian citizens and permanent residents. In this article, we will discuss your rights as a temporary foreign worker in Canada and what your employer must do to comply with these standards.


Your Rights as a Temporary Foreign Worker

Your rights as a temporary foreign worker in Canada are protected under the force of law. According to Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), your employer must give you information about your rights and provide you with a signed copy of your employment agreement before or on the first day of work. Your employer must also pay you for your work as stated in your employment agreement, including overtime if your agreement includes it.

Your employer must take reasonable efforts to provide you with a workplace free of abuse, including reprisals. They must follow the employment and recruitment standards of the province or territory in which you are working and train you to do your job safely, including how to safely operate any equipment or machinery. Your employer must also take reasonable action to give you access to healthcare if you are injured or become ill at the workplace and provide reasonable healthcare services if you are injured or become ill at the workplace.


What Your Employer Must Not Do

Your employer must not force you to perform unsafe work or work that your employment agreement does not authorize you to do. They must not force you to work if you are sick or injured or under pressure or force you to work overtime not included in your employment agreement. Your employer cannot punish you for reporting mistreatment, unsafe work, inadequate housing, or for cooperating with an inspection conducted by a government employee. They must not take your passport away from you or deport you from Canada or change your immigration status without your consent. Finally, your employer cannot make you reimburse recruitment-related fees they may have paid to hire you.

It's important to note that if your employer violates any of these rights, they will face legal repercussions. Since December 1st, 2015, the Canadian government has been cracking down on non-compliance with the TFWP and IMP. Employers found guilty of a violation may receive penalties of up to $100,000 per violation, to a maximum of $1 million a year. Additionally, their company name and address will be published on the IRCC website, with details of the violation and consequences. They may also have their Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) suspended or revoked, and be removed from the TFWP or IMP.


How to Report Non-Compliance

If you suspect that your employer is not complying with the TFWP or IMP, it is important to report them to the proper authorities. You can contact Service Canada through their tip line at +1-866-602-9448. This is a confidential service that can be availed in over 200 languages and is made for foreign worker support. You can also fill out an online form to report non-compliance.

In addition, there are various support organizations for migrant workers in Canada that can offer assistance. Workers in British Columbia can contact the Community Airport Newcomers Network or MOSAIC. Workers in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba can contact the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society through their TFW Hub or Community Support Services. Workers in Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island can contact KAIROS Canada, and workers in Quebec may contact Travailleurs Etrangers Temporaries.

Temporary foreign workers can also report other problems with their employers to IRCC (outside the scope of the TFWP or IMP), should the need arise.


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