Ensuring the health and safety of temporary foreign workers is a key priority of the Government of Canada. These workers have the same rights to a safe workplace as Canadian citizens and permanent residents while in Canada.
To help employers understand their obligations under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) officials delivered 20 outreach sessions from April 1, 2022, to March 31, 2023. Participants included a variety of stakeholders, including employers, employer associations, consulates and federal agencies.
At these outreach sessions, officials provided an overview of the inspection process and the TFWP’s authorities, including information about the enhanced regulations introduced on September 26, 2022, to protect workers. They also included a question-and-answer period for participants, where subject matter experts provided information on specific concerns.
The vast majority of employers using the TFWP respect workers’ rights and are found compliant with program rules and guidelines. The Department is alerted to potential issues with employers through several means, including the TFWP toll-free, confidential tip line, which has been improved with the addition of live agents able to offer services in multiple languages. These agents provide the opportunity for workers to better report situations of mistreatment or abuse.
From April 1, 2022, to March 31, 2023, the Department received over 5,465 tips through the various tools available to help workers report issues. Every tip was triaged within 24 hours, and 41% of the tips received either triggered an investigation or were added to an ongoing inspection.
The Department has recently enhanced inspection tools and mandatory training for staff to strengthen the quality and timeliness of inspections. ESDC reviews every tip that it receives, and each one that is relevant to the program is followed up on within two business days. A case is then opened, the original program application and employer’s history with the program is reviewed, and an inspection may be launched. The inspection may include announced or unannounced visits to the workplace and interviews with employees, supervisors and the employer.
ESDC collaborates with other government departments, provinces, consulates and migrant support organizations when required. If criminal activity is suspected, the information is forwarded to law enforcement agencies such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canada Border Services Agency. If issues are identified during an inspection, the Department makes every effort to work with employers to bring them into compliance with program and regulatory conditions and educate them about their responsibilities.
When an employer fails to meet program requirements or does not cooperate during an inspection, a range of consequences can be imposed, such as administrative monetary penalties (AMPs), the withdrawal of their Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and a ban from the program. Employers who are ultimately found to be non-compliant with program conditions are posted on a public-facing website managed by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.