Alberta toughens rules to protect jobseekers

Employment agencies to be more accountable Sept. 1

The Alberta government is strengthening laws to better protect workers who use employment agencies to find work.

“Many workers come to Alberta because we have excellent opportunities,” said Service Alberta Minister Manmeet Bhullar. “Unfortunately, some people take advantage of their eagerness to find work. That’s why this government is acting by putting in strict rules that make employment agencies more accountable, strengthen protection for workers and aid in complaint investigations.”

The Employment Agency Business Licensing Regulation currently prohibits agencies from charging workers a fee for finding them jobs. Agencies must also be licensed by the provincial government.

Amendments to the regulation will provide additional protections making it illegal for businesses to:
•mislead temporary foreign workers about their rights or their chance of becoming a Canadian citizen
•pressure workers to lie to Canadian officials
•intimidate or threaten individuals seeking work
•require workers to provide a performance bond.

Agencies will be required to keep full records of their recruiting activities and register their agents with the government of Alberta. These changes will assist in the investigation and prosecution of companies that exploit vulnerable workers, said the government.

Violators face enforcement action ranging from suspension or cancellation of their licence to prosecution under the Fair Trading Act. Penalties determined by the court include a maximum fine of $100,000 and up to two years in jail.

The changes come into effect on Sept. 1 to give businesses time to adjust to the new requirements.

The Alberta government consulted with employment and community agencies, labour organizations, immigration lawyers, employers and consumers on the proposed changes. Their responses guided the development of the regulation and were highly supportive of the changes.

“This is a positive step forward for jobseekers and the reputable businesses that want to help them find meaningful work,” said Randy Upright, vice-president of the Association of Canadian Search, Employment and Staffing Services. “These changes will improve employment agency standards and help ensure that ethical businesses can compete on a level playing field.”


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