A year-long investigation has uncovered 116 employers who hired temporary foreign workers and were in breach of the rules, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) says.
The federal department overseeing social programs and the labour market conducted its investigation of more than 2,100 employers who hired through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) during the year which ended March 31, 2023.
The vast majority of those employers, 94 per cent, were following the rules but six per cent were not and were given warnings or fines and even temporarily barred from hiring through the TFWP.
A list of employers who have been found to be in breach of the rules of the TFWP and the International Mobility Program (IMP) can be found on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website.
Penalties handed out to 93 of the non-compliant employers during the investigation amounted to $1.54 million.
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Seven employers are now banned from using the program for five years and 23 employers were given warnings.
Last September, new regulations came into force to boost compliance with the TFWP and hold employers accountable.
“These efforts complement other recent initiatives, including the launch of the new Migrant Worker Support Program and the TFWP Workforce Solutions Road Map,” notes the ESDC. “Moving forward, the government intends to provide updates on TFWP compliance efforts on a semi-annual basis.”
Among the employers slapped with fines were:
- an employer in the transport sector who was penalized $258,000 and given a five-year ban from the program for failing to provide adequate wages, adequate accommodations, and safe working conditions, among other violations;
- an employer in the construction industry who was given a $53,000 fine and a five-year ban from the program for failing to provide adequate wages and working conditions, and;
- an employer in the transport sector who received a $152,250 fine along with a five-year ban from the program for failing to provide adequate wages and working conditions, failing to comply with federal, provincial and territorial laws which regulate employment, and failing to retain documents as required for the assessment of compliance with the program conditions.
The TFWP allows employers in Canada to hire a foreign worker when no Canadians or permanent residents are available. In 2022, there were 204,700 temporary residents with work permits through the TFWP, representing roughly one per cent of the labour force.
There are three categories of violations in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations that result in administrative and monetary penalties and bans from the TFWP.
These violations include those that would put the life or safety of a temporary foreign worker at risk, failing to pay appropriate wages, failing to provide safe working conditions and appropriate accommodations, violations related to COVID-19 and quarantine, and abuse of temporary foreign workers.
Temporary Foreign Workers’ Rights Protected Under Canadian Law
In Canada, all workers are protected under the law, including temporary foreign workers, and the fastest and easiest ways to report abuse are online or by phone by calling 1-866-602-9448. That phone line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
When using that tipline, callers can:
- leave a message with information for Service Canada to investigate, or;
- talk to a live Service Canada agent in one of more than 200 languages during business hours, Monday to Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time.
People can also report abuse in person or by mail. When making a report, it is important to tell the government official as much about the problem or abuse as possible. The information provided is protected by Canada’s privacy laws.
A temporary foreign worker need never fear his or her employer or anyone at their workplace will ever know who made the report.