July 24, 2024 5:41 AM

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Canada Intensifies Enforcement of Temporary Foreign Worker Program

The Canadian federal government is intensifying its efforts to enforce compliance with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). In 2023, it issued $2.1 million in Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMPs) for employer violations, a 36 percent increase from the previous year, when $1.54 million in AMPs were issued.

The TFWP is crucial to the Canadian economy, enabling employers to hire foreign workers to address labor shortages. Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), which oversees health and safety measures for temporary workers, announced the enhanced compliance regime.

2023 ESDC conducted 2,122 inspections under the TFWP, finding compliance in 94 percent of cases. However, 12 employers faced bans, up from seven in 2022. This crackdown is supported by a $48 million investment over two years, beginning in 2023-2024, to strengthen the Employer Compliance Regime.

The new measures include hiring more program inspectors, maintaining a worker protection tip line, and conducting outreach sessions to raise awareness of temporary foreign worker rights and employer obligations. 

Advanced tools have also been developed to report potential misuse of the TFWP, and a process to escalate urgent health and safety concerns within 48 hours has been implemented.

The Employer Compliance Regime, established under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR), classifies violations into three categories (A, B, and C), which can result in AMPs and program bans. 

Violations include endangering a worker’s life or safety, failing to pay appropriate wages, providing unsafe working conditions, and allowing worker abuse.

Since its inception, the TFWP has seen substantial growth in Canada. The number of permit holders increased from 22,752 in 2000 to over 119,000 in 2020. 

Employers using the program must comply with the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), adhere to the terms of the LMIA decision letter and its annexes, and maintain relevant records for six years from employment. 

They must also promptly inform ESDC of any changes or errors in an approved LMIA, changes in working conditions for temporary foreign workers, and address compliance issues.

By tightening enforcement and enhancing support measures, Canada aims to ensure the rights and safety of temporary foreign workers and maintain a fair and accountable program for all parties involved.

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