Employers Take Note – New Rules for Foreign Workers

Amendments to Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations to strengthen protections for temporary foreign workers during their period of employment in Canada are scheduled to come into force on September 26, 2022. Specifically, these amendments apply to those employers seeking employer specific work permits for foreign nationals via the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (“TFWP”), which relates to LMIA-based work permits, or the International Mobility Program (“IMP”) which relates to LMIA-exempt work permits.

Summarized below are highlights of the upcoming changes:

  • Employers will be required to provide a signed copy of the employment agreement to the foreign worker, which is drafted in the foreign national’s choice of either French or English, that is signed and dated by both the worker and the employer and that includes the same details of the occupation, wages and working conditions that will be provided to IRCC in connection with the work permit application. For IMP based work permit applications, this must be done before the employer provides the details of the occupation, wages and working conditions to IRCC via it’s Employer Portal.
  • Employers will be required to provide temporary foreign workers with information about their rights in Canada on or before their first day of work as well as making this information easily accessible to the foreign worker in the workplace throughout their period of employment without additional cost to the foreign worker and without them needing to go through the employer to obtain it. The information can be provided in a physical or virtual location such as a break room wall or the company website. Information on workers rights can be found at https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/publications-manuals/know-your-rights-worker-international-mobility-program.html It is recommended that employers consider providing this information to the foreign worker when providing them with the employment agreement.
  • Employers must provide a workplace that is free of abuse, including reprisal. The definition of abuse in the regulations will be amended to encompass reprisal by or on behalf of an employer against a foreign worker because the foreign worker reported employer non-compliance or cooperated with an employer compliance inspection. Reprisal includes a disciplinary measure, a demotion, a dismissal, or any threat to take any such measures.
  • Employers are prohibited from charging or recovering, directly or indirectly, from the foreign worker, any fees related to recruitment either before or after the recruitment process. Employers must demonstrate that they have made best efforts to ensure any person acting on their behalf has not and will not charge or recover such fees by verifying this with the foreign worker
  • Employers must make reasonable efforts to provide access to health care services when the foreign worker is injured or becomes ill at the workplace.
  • Employers of LMIA based work permit holders will be required to obtain and pay for private health insurance that covers emergency medical care for their workers during any applicable provincial waiting period for eligibility.
  • IRCC will have expanded authority to receive information from third party institutions, and in the case of the IMP, to collect personal information from employers and employees.
  • An employer found to be noncompliant with one of the provisions will have a reduced period in which they must respond to the preliminary findings outlined by IRCC.
    • This provision is intended to encourage employers to resolve their noncompliant behavior in a timely manner, so they may avoid the possible penalties imposed by IRCC.
  • Employment and Social Development Canada (“ESDC”) will be empowered to suspend LMIA processing requests for the employer found to be noncompliant with the program’s new requirements.

The recent pandemic has highlighted the precarious position of many individuals in the labour force, and especially that of Canada’s foreign workers who may be more vulnerable to potential exploitation due to their temporary status and their limited access to information on their workplace protections and rights under applicable federal, provincial, and territorial legislation. The amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations are intended to address gaps in worker protection, improve worker and employer awareness and strengthen program integrity.

Should employers have any questions regarding these changes, or any other immigration needs we are happy to advise. Our legal professionals can be reached by phone (416 368 1111) or via email: caruso@cilf.ca; fagan@cilf.ca; bonisteel@cilf.ca; ali@cilf.ca; mukherjee@cilf.ca; garciafialdini@cilf.ca