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IRCC amending Immigration Refugee and Protection Regulations to protect foreign workers

By CILA on August 29, 2022

This guest article was authored by Jake Garson, Summer Student, Corporate Immigration Law Firm.

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) applies the principles and powers outlined in the Immigration Refugee and Protection Act (IRPA) to create a system of procedural and conduct requirements that govern the immigration system.

According to these regulations, a foreign national wishing to work in Canada must secure a work permit, which is most commonly accessed from the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (“TFWP”) or the International Mobility Program (“IMP”).

On July 6, 2022, IRCC announced it would be amending the current regulations in order to bolster temporary foreign worker protections. The amendments are scheduled to come into force on September 26, 2022.

IRCC has divided its modifications into three categories: 1. Temporary foreign worker protections, 2. Program integrity, and 3. Technical amendments.

  • Under section 1.1 of the proposed amendments, employers will be required to present a paper copy of the necessary information supplied by the Canadian government in one of the official languages of Canada, as well as make this information accessible in the workplace.
  • Under amendment 1.2, employers must give their assurance that they are committed to supplying the necessary information, dictated by the Canadian government to their employees. They must perform this duty on the employer portal in the case of the IMP, and in their LMIA submission if they are applying through the TMFP.
  • Under amendment 1.3, IRCC proposes to modify the current regulation’s definition of abuse to encompass reprisal from employers.
  • Amendment 1.4 attempts to address financial exploitation by prohibiting employers from collecting recruitment fees from a temporary foreign worker both prior to and following the recruitment process.
  • Amendment 1.5 will begin requiring employers in the TFWP to pay for private health insurance that covers emergency medical care during the provincial waiting period for OHIP eligibility.
  • Under Amendment 2.1, the IRCC will be expanding its authority to receive information from third party institutions, and in the case of the IMP, to collect personal information from employers and employees (2.6).
  • Under amendment 2.2, an employer found to be noncompliant with one of the provisions will have a reduced period in which they must respond to the preliminary findings outlined by IRCC.
    • This provision is intended to encourage employers to resolve their noncompliant behavior in a timely manner, so they may avoid the possible penalties imposed by IRCC.
  • Amendment 2.3 will empower Employment and Social Development Canada (“ESDC”) to suspend LMIA processing requests for the employer found to be noncompliant with the program’s new requirements.
  • Amendments 2.4 and 2.5 will introduce a variety of additional requirements on employers applying for an LMIA under the TFWP
    • Under these provisions, employers will be assessed by ESDC to determine if they have been exploitive, and if their employee’s compensation meets the prevailing wage for their occupation. Furthermore, employers will be assessed to determine if the employment of a foreign national may impact the outcome of a current labor dispute.

The technical amendment category is mainly concerned with updating outdated provisions in the IRPR as well as ensuring that the IRPR operates in cooperation with provincial legislation (3.1-3.3).

The recent pandemic has highlighted the precarious position of many individuals in the labor force, and especially that of Canada’s foreign workers. In order for Canada to continue to attract a wide variety of talent, the government of Canada is seeking to ensure that foreign workers feel secure in the fact that their rights and protections are being upheld to the same standard as the country’s citizens.

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