Ottawa fined nearly 200 non-compliant temp foreign worker employers in 2023: report

Total fines amount to $2.7-million

Ottawa fined nearly 200 non-compliant temp foreign worker employers in 2023: report

The federal government found nearly 200 Canadian employers to be non-compliant to the rules of the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program in 2023.

Overall,  Ottawa reached 194 decisions against non-compliant employers last year and handed fines totalling $2.7-million, reported The Globe and Mail.

Some employers have also been suspended from hiring temporary labour from outside the country.

From April 1, 2022, to March 31, 2023, 116 employers were found to be non-compliant with the TFWP. Of those, 93 employers faced administrative monetary penalties totalling $1.54 million for violating the conditions of the program.

The remaining 1,011 inspections during that period found the employers “compliant with justification.” This means there were initial issues during the inspection, but the employer was able to justify any discrepancies and take corrective action, noted The Globe and Mail.

While the average fine being imposed on violating employers has been increasing in the past few years, it has soared this year:

  • $28,836 in 2024 so far
  • $13,841 in 2023
  • $11,606 in 2022
  • $9,761 in 2021
  • $3,077 in 2020

Recently, New Brunswick employer LeBreton Fisheries was fined more than $365,000 and banned from hiring temporary foreign workers for two years for failing to provide a work environment free of harassment and reprisal.

In the last three months of 2023, employers were approved to fill more than 81,000 positions through the TFW program, The Globe and Mail previously reported, citing figures shared by the federal government.

That, however, opens the possibility for exploitation, Catherine Connelly, a professor at McMaster University, says in The Globe and Mail’s report.

“There’s a subset of companies that are using the Temporary Foreign Worker Program because they’re very poorly managed to begin with,” said the author of Enduring Work: Experiences with Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program. 

“They are not able to keep local workers. So their Hail Mary pass is ‘Okay, we’re gonna get temporary foreign workers who cannot quit.’”

Previously, the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) said that the Recognized Employer Pilot (REP) under Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) is being exploited by low-wage employers.

In September 2023, Tomoya Obokata, United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, said that  “employer-specific work permit regimes”, including the TFW Program, make migrant workers “vulnerable to contemporary forms of slavery”.

However, Stefan Larrass, senior policy advisor, Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association, later told HRD that that comment was “completely inappropriate”

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