Feds announce new rules for temporary foreign workers

Job offers to be rigorously assessed and time limits on workers' stays to be imposed

Employers seeking to hire temporary foreign workers, including live-in caregivers, will now be assessed against past compliance with program requirements before authorization can be granted, according to new rules announced by the federal government.

Employers found to have violated worker rights may also be refused authorization to hire a foreign worker under the changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program that will come into effect on April 1, 2011.

“The government is taking action to protect temporary foreign workers, including live-in caregivers, from potential abuse and exploitation,” said Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney.

The changes are drawing kudos from Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC).

"Temporary foreign workers come to Canada in a very vulnerable position because they are dependent upon their employer," said CSIC chair Nigel Thomson. "These new rules will help ensure that employers play by the rules."

The changes include:

• a more rigorous assessment of the genuineness of the job offer

• a two-year prohibition from hiring temporary foreign workers for employers who fail to meet their commitments to workers with respect to wages, working conditions and occupation

• a limit on the length of time a temporary foreign worker may work in Canada before returning home.

Although the Federal government is taking important steps to protect temporary foreign workers, much more needs to be done, especially on the provincial level, said Thomson.

"Manitoba has set the standard for protecting temporary foreign workers by requiring licensing for recruiters and employers. Only members of CSIC, members of a provincial or territorial bar and Quebec notaries are eligible to apply for this license," he said. "The other provinces should follow suit to ensure the protection of these vulnerable individuals."

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