Canada’s Guide To Temporary Foreign Workers’ Rights To Be Published In Five More Languages

Canada’s Employers Must Meet New Temporary Foreign Worker Wage Requirements
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Canada’s online guide to temporary foreign workers’ rights is to be published in five additional languages in the wake of Ontario and Quebec’s efforts to ramp up inspections of working conditions.

On its website, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has already published that guide, ‘Temporary Foreign Workers: Your Rights Are Protected’, in English, French and Spanish.

It outlines the rights of foreign nationals living and working in Canada in terms of healthcare services, workplace injuries, workplace health and safety, working conditions and housing rights and where to get help.

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But now, Ottawa is working on releasing that guide in several other languages.

“We are currently completing Tagalog, Korean, Thai, Hindi and Chinese (simplified) languages and will make them available in the coming weeks,” notes the ESDC on its website. 

Temporary foreign workers who are asked to do dangerous work or face unsafe working conditions – or who have been injured because of their work – are encouraged to contact provincial or territorial workplace health and safety offices at:

  • Alberta: 1-866-415-8690
  • British Columbia: 1-888-621-7233
  • Manitoba: 1-855-957-7233
  • New Brunswick: 1-800-222-9775
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 1-800-563-5471
  • Northwest Territories: 1-800-661-0792
  • Nova Scotia: 1-800-952-2687
  • Nunavut: 1-877-404-4407
  • Ontario: 1-877-202-0008
  • Prince Edward Island: 1-800-237-5049
  • Quebec: 1-844-838-0808
  • Saskatchewan: 1-800-567-7233
  • Yukon: 1-800-661-0443

In Canada, governments are increasingly taking steps to ensure temporary foreign workers are treated right and not abused at work. 

Quebec Expanded Inspections Of Workplaces Of TFWs Earlier This Year

Earlier this year, the francophone central Canadian province of Quebec began to deploy inspectors to ensure the health and safety of temporary foreign workers throughout Quebec as a program previously limited to agricultural workers expanded to include six sectors of the economy.

“Temporary foreign workers no longer work only in agriculture,” said then-Quebec Immigration Minister Jean Boulet in May. “With the relaxation of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, the government of Quebec needed to improve the health and safety resources available to temporary foreign workers and their employers.

“Deploying this squad (of health and safety inspectors) will raise awareness in workplaces about the rights and obligations of workers and their employers.”

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Under the province’s initiative, its health and safety commission, the Commission des Normes, de l’Équité, de la Santé et de la Sécurité du Travail (CNESST), is also offering consulting services to the employers of temporary foreign workers to help them meet their obligations.

“Temporary foreign workers are important to help meet the challenges posed by the labour shortages and so it is vital that all efforts be made to ensure they are being well treated,” said Boulet.

Quebec has had a squad of workplace health and safety inspectors for temporary foreign workers in the agricultural sector for the last three years, since 2019, because they then comprised the lion’s share of temporary foreign workers in the province. 

That program, though, was seasonal. 

Ontario Boosted The Number Of Inspections To Safeguard The Health Of TFWs During The Pandemic

Under the expanded version of the program, the new squad of health and safety inspectors offers services throughout the year to several additional sectors in addition to agriculture, including:

  • retail;
  • manufacturing;
  • hospitality;
  • food processing, and;
  • healthcare.

Quebec’s efforts to ensure temporary foreign workers are treated properly came a little more than a year after Ontario, Canada’s biggest province, upped the number of inspections on farms, greenhouses and other agribusinesses during the COVID-19 pandemic to protect the health and safety of temporary foreign workers there.

“Our government is taking action to protect essential temporary foreign workers TFW who may be at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 during the upcoming growing season,” said Labour, Training and Skills Development Minister Monte McNaughton.

“We rely on these workers to ensure our grocery store shelves remain stocked and families have food on the table. These inspections will help stop the spread of COVID-19 on farms, and in our communities.”

Advocates for migrant workers in Canada are adamant that migrant workers need to be given full protection under Canadian labour laws.

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who must grant permanent status to all now so that migrants actually have the power to protect themselves and assert their rights,” said Syed Hussan, executive director of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, in January last year.

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