Those who immigrate to Canada for temporary or seasonal work are often economically vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous recruiters and employers. In an effort to protect these workers, Ontario Minister of Labour Yasir Naqvi announced new proposed legislation earlier this month aimed at strengthening migrant worker’s legal rights as well as penalties for violating them. Immigrant workers with these, or other immigration issues, may benefit from consulting with a Canadian immigration lawyer. In addition to determining whether a person may have a claim, a Canadian immigration lawyer can also help with any other ancillary issues, including alternative immigration programs or family-based immigration consideration.
The act, known as the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, purports to protect migrant workers by:
- Eliminating the existing $10,000 cap on the recovery of unpaid wages, as well as allowing employees a recovery period of 2 years.
- Imposing liability for employment standards violations on temporary help agencies, decreasing the number of employers who hire individuals specifically to work in unsafe conditions.
- Prohibiting employers from charging migrant workers recruitment fees
- Prohibiting employers from seizing personal documents such as passports
In addition to helping vulnerable workers, the bill would also extend the protections of the Occupational Health and Safety Act to individuals in co-op placement or unpaid internships that are approved by a post-secondary institution.
The proposal comes in the wake of a report issued by the Law Commission of Ontario which indicates that full-time, long-term employment marked by good wages and benefits is no longer the predominant form of employment in Canada. The report indicates that such employment is being replaced by “precarious work” which is often contract, part-time, self-employment or temporary. Such positions are characterized by the absence of benefits, sub-standard wages, instability, and lack of employee control.
If passed, the bill is likely to significantly improve conditions for temporary and other immigrant workers in Canada. Under Canadian immigration regulations, a person who wishes to obtain a temporary work permit must have his or her employer obtain a labour market opinion (LMO) to hire the individual. This document gives an employer the legal authority to hire a foreign worker. In a few instances, the position may not require a LMO. These positions can include workers covered under international agreements, those partaking in exchange programs, spouses, dependents, and workers nominated by a province, among others. In addition, an individual seeking a work permit must meet all the other requirements stipulated by Canadian immigration law, including general admissibility requirements.
Those who wish to enter Canada to work or visit have many options available for legal entry. A lawyer who specializes in Canada immigration services can help determine your eligibility. To schedule a free consultation with a Canadian immigration lawyer, contact First Immigration Law Firm toll-free at 1 (855) 360-4333 in North America or 1 (514) 360-4333 internationally.