On January 1, 2018, the Ontario Immigration Act, 2015 (The Act) and its regulations came into force. The Act applies to the Province’s immigration program, including the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) and its various streams.
The Act introduces a new compliance, inspection and enforcement regime for employers who hold an approval letter with respect to one of the province’s immigration programs or for employers who have registered in the employer registry. Inspections may be conducted to ensure compliance with the Act and its regulations; this is similar to the compliance regime under Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s International Mobility Program and Employment and Social Development Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program. In addition, the inspection regime under the Act also extends to recruiters, if a recruiter registry has been established.
The Act enumerates administrative offences and corresponding penalties for non-compliance with the Act and its programs. The penalties apply to both employers and individuals who have obtained an approval from the program. Administrative penalties “shall not exceed $150,000” for each contravention and if a corporation, body or individual is convicted of an offence under the Act then a fine of not more than $250,000 could apply. If an individual is convicted of an offence there are additional penalties such as imprisonment for a term of not more than 2 years less a day or to both the fine mentioned above and a term of imprisonment. The regulations provide a calculation to determine the amount of the penalty to be levied. The amount of the fine is based on factors such as past offences and the number of applicants and applications involved. It is important to note that non-compliance could also lead to a ban from submitting applications to the Program, in certain circumstances.
Employers participating in the OINP need to be careful to report material changes in the terms of the employment of foreign workers that are nominated. In particular if an employee resigns, or is terminated, the employer has an obligation to report this immediately. Other examples include changes in job duties, job title, work location and compensation.
The Act also formalizes many elements of the OINP and its various streams and makes minor changes to administration and processing under those streams. One noteworthy change is that there is no longer a cap on the number of applicants any one employer can support under the Program.
We will continue to monitor the application and enforcement of this new regime and provide another update later this year when it has been up and running for a few months and we’ve had an opportunity to see it in action.