The government has removed provisions from the Temporary Foreign Worker Program that would have prevented convicted employers from taking part.
The government notice said the proposals, which were aimed at employers convicted of human trafficking, sexually assaulting an employee or causing the death of a worker, were “too rigid and cumbersome.”
“Instead, the amendments introduce other measures that achieve the objective of ensuring a safe workplace for TFWs (temporary foreign workers) and that allow for a more timely ability to deal with abuse,” the government said. “Accordingly, the amendments include a condition on employers to make reasonable efforts to provide a workplace free of abuse, including physical, sexual, psychological, and financial abuse.”
However, some business stakeholders have expressed confusion over the change.
“I don’t really know where that came from, because we don’t take any issue with those provisions—we’re very supportive of measures that are related to abuses of the program,” Daniel Kelly, head of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), told Canadian Press. “I don’t get the sense this was done as a result of anyone lobbying; my hunch was this was more to ensure that it was legally compliant.”
An official for the Employment and Social Development Department said the move had not weakened protections for temporary foreign workers.
“Employers who engage in serious criminal activity, like human trafficking, sexual assault or conduct leading to the death of an employee are by definition creating an unsafe work environment, and will not be able to use the Temporary Foreign Worker Program,” Pamela Wong said.
The program measures came into effect on December 31, empowering government officials to conduct workplace inspections without warrants and to blacklist employers who fail to comply.
The regulations also allow government officials to interview foreign workers about their working conditions and to demand documentation from employers proving they’ve complied with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.