The Government of Canada, as well as several provincial governments, have introduced several measures to protect temporary foreign workers and maintain the integrity of Canada’s foreign worker programs.
Meera Thakrar is a Canadian immigration lawyer whose practices focus on helping companies recruit and retain foreign workers.
Meera joins Peter Edelmann, Deanna Okun-Nachoff and Steven Meurrens to discuss various measures that different levels of government have introduced to protect foreign workers, challenges do governments face in this task and how employer compliance inspections work.
2:15 – Deanna discusses vulnerabilities that caregivers face. These include nonpayment of wages, excessive hours and more. What aggravates the situation is that because caregivers typically seek permanent residency and reporting abuse could potentially jeapordize this.
4:30 – What are some of the motivations of caregiver employers who exploit their foreign workers? What are some possible solutions to reduce the vulnerability of caregivers?
10:20 – Do what extent does the caregiver program deflate Canadian wages? To what extent does the fact that foreign workers provide cheap labour, making goods and services affordable, create a disincentive to stricter enforcement of foreign worker rights.
12:20 – An overview of how the government’s enforcement of compliance in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the International Mobility Program works.
14:55 – Canada and British Columbia have an agreement whereby foreign workers who have been exploited can get a six month open work permit. How is this working out? What about the new British Columbia law to protect vulnerable foreign workers? How likely is that to succeed?
25:30 – Peter summarizes a criminal case that he had recently in which a trucking company was charged criminally for paying foreign workers by the mile instead of by the hour.Read more ›
One of the more frustrating aspects of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program from an application procedure angle can be determining whether ESDC accepts digital signatures, and whether an individual other than the 3rd party representative can sign for the person named as the third party representatives.
Helpfully, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program Wiki appears to answer that digital signatures are accepted in the TFWP, and that if there is no doubt that an individual works in the same law firm as an authorized third party then it is reasonable to accept that this individual can sign as an authorized representative.
Read more ›
In January 2015 the Federal Court released its decision in Frankie’s Burgers Lougheed Inc. v. The Minister of Employment and Social Development Canada, 2015 FC 27 (“Frankie’s Burgers“). Frankie’s Burgers is one of the first Federal Court decisions involving an employer seeking judicial review of a decision of the Ministry of Economic and Social Development Canada (“ESDC“) to not issue a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA“), which was then referred to as a Labour Market Opinion (“LMO“).
Frankie’s Burgers should be read by all representatives and employers who submit LMIAs. In my opinion, the case shows that the Federal Court seems prepared to show much greater deference to ESDC in its administration of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (the “TFWP“) than it does to both Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Immigration and Refugee Board. Lawyers who were anticipating that the Federal Court would force ESDC to change some of its (often internal and secretive) policies should also take pause.Read more ›
On June 20, 2014, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) and the Ministry of Economic and Social Development Canada (“ESDC”) announced significant reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (“TFWP”). The changes will affect all employers of Temporary Foreign Workers (“TFWs”) in Canada. Many of the changes take effect immediately, with the remainder being phased in over the next year in a half.
The reforms are comprehensive, and include the following:
- Labour Market Impact Assessment Program
- New Labour Market Information Assessment (“LMIA”) Replaces the Labour Market Opinion (“LMO”)
- LMIA Application Fee of $1,000
- Guaranteed 10-Day Processing For Certain Occupations
- Dividing LMIAs into High-Wage and Low-Wage Positions
- Cap on Low-Wage TFWs for Individual Companies
- Refusing Low-Skilled LMIA Applications in Areas of High Unemployment in Some Occupations
- Reducing the Duration of Low-Wage Work Permits
- Introduction of Transition Plans for High-Wage Positions
- Stronger Enforcement and Tougher Penalties
- Increasing the Number and Scope of Inspections
- Monetary Fines for Employers Who Break the Rules
- International Mobility Programs (“IMP”)
- IMP Replacing LMO-Exempt Work Permit Program
- New Fee and Employer Compliance System
- New Privilege Fee for Open Work Permit Applicants
- Amending Provincial Annexes
- International Experience Canada Program Being Restructured
- Intra-Company Transfer Program – New Rules for Specialized Knowledge Applicants
As noted above, the Labour Market Opinion (“LMO”) program is being renamed the Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA”). As well, the International Mobility Program (“IMP”) is replacing work permit applications which were previously classified as LMO-exempt.
Please note that what follows below provides only a summary of the changes.