Nova Scotia examines workplace conditions for temporary foreign workers

Challenges workers face include high recruiter fees, non-existent jobs and pay below promised levels
||Last Updated: 09/23/2010

The Nova Scotia government is seeking input on workplace conditions and protections for temporary foreign workers.

"Temporary foreign workers are often alone in a new land and do not know or understand their rights," said Minister of Labour and Workforce Development Marilyn More. "We need to gather better information about their challenges and how we can help."

The temporary foreign worker sector not only includes seasonal agricultural workers but also people working in medium- to high-skilled positions in information technology, health care and hospitality, filling positions for which no Canadian workers are available.

For temporary foreign workers, barriers can arise from limited language and literacy skills, poor understanding of the culture and values of Canadian society, and limited access to resources that provide information about workers' rights and employers' responsibilities.

Some temporary foreign workers have told Department of Labour and Workforce Development and Office of Immigration staff they were forced to pay high fees to recruiters before they could come to the province. Others said when they arrived, either the job they were hired for did not exist or their compensation was not as promised.

The government has released a discussion paper on the topic, which addresses five main areas of concern:

• Prohibition of fees charged to temporary foreign workers.

• Prohibition of employer recovery of recruitment costs.

• Changes to the terms and conditions of employment for temporary foreign workers once they arrive in Nova Scotia.

• A licensing regime for companies that recruit temporary foreign workers to work for employers in Nova Scotia.

• Educating temporary foreign workers about their rights.

The public has until June 30 to make submissions on the discussion paper.

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