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Report/Press release

[Metcalf Foundation] Made in Canada: How the Law Constructs Migrant Workers’ Insecurity

This document is a key resource

Date

2012-09-30

Authors

Fay Faraday

Abstract

Recruitment
1. Legislation must be extended to ensure that all migrant workers have effective protection against the charging of recruitment fees and to ensure that employers will be jointly and severally liable for recruitment fees that have been collected by private recruiters.
2. Ontario should adopt a proactive system of employer registration, recruiter licensing (including the mandatory provision of an irrevocable letter of credit or deposit), mandatory filing of information about recruitment and employment contracts, and proactive government inspection and investigation in line with the best practices adopted under Manitoba’s Worker Recruitment and Protection Act and Regulations.
3. The limitation period for filing complaints about improper recruitment fees should be extended to reflect the current four-year period which live-in caregivers have to complete their qualifying work to apply for permanent residence.
4. Workers under the SAWP should be entitled to job security, including seniority and recall rights.
Work Permits
5. Work permits should be sector-specific or province-specific and must be framed in a way that allows a worker to engage in alternate work or modified duties in the event of injury or illness.
6. Work permits should not prohibit migrant workers from enrolling in educational or training programs outside of working hours.
7. Public employment services should be developed to facilitate the matching of employers seeking LMOs (Labour Market Opinions) with migrant workers presently in Ontario.
8. Employment insurance benefits must be made accessible in practice to migrant workers.
Information Prior To and On Arrival in Ontario
9. Canadian government officials should provide migrant workers with information about their rights in the applicable labour migration program; their employment, social and human rights in Ontario; mechanisms for enforcing their rights; and government and community
Made in Canada: How the Law Constructs Migrant Workers’ Insecurity 7
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Made in Canada: How the Law Constructs Migrant Workers’ Insecurity
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organizations and services that are available to assist them in Ontario. This information should be provided both in person and in writing, in the language spoken by the migrant worker, before a migrant worker departs their country of origin and again upon arrival in Ontario.
10. A comprehensive plain language guide for migrant workers should be developed and made readily accessible outlining their rights through each stage of the labour migration cycle; identifying the relevant enforcement mechanisms and contact information for enforcement agencies; and providing contact information for established and recognized community organizations and worker advocates who can assist migrant workers through their labour migration cycle.
11. Migrant workers and worker advocates should be provided with transparent information about how prevailing wage rates are determined. Migrant workers must not be paid less than the prevailing wage.
Working and Living in Ontario
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Provincial legislation should be amended to ensure that migrant workers in all sectors – including agriculture and caregiving – have access to effective and meaningful legal protection for the right to unionize and bargain collectively.
Resources should be devoted to emphasize proactive enforcement of employment standards in sectors and workplaces employing migrant workers. Proactive enforcement should be supplemented by collaboration with community organizations, inspections targeted at sectors at risk for non-compliance, the ability to expand reactive investigations beyond the initial complaint when evidence demonstrates a broader pattern of violations, and monitoring after a hearing to ensure remedies are implemented.
Ontario should establish an independent publicly funded Office of the Migrant Worker Advocate to provide information and advice to migrant workers free of charge, including information about rights, how to enforce them, legal support in making claims to enforce rights, a hotline, outreach to migrant worker communities, and coordination with community groups, advocates and legal clinics supporting migrant workers.
The Ontario Ministry of Labour should develop innovative partnerships, including funding arrangements, with established community organizations who are working with migrant workers to collaborate on identifying rights violations.
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16. Provincial legislation, including the Employment Standards Act, 2000, should be amended to ensure that anonymous complaints can trigger investigations and to permit complaints to be filed by third-parties such as community organizations and public interest groups.
17. Employeevoiceshouldbeenhancedbyfacilitatingworker representation and consultation in developing the contracts that apply to migrant workers, including workers under the SAWP.
18. Provincial legislation, including the Employment Standards Act, 2000, should be amended to ensure that all terms of migrant workers’ contracts – including disputes about unjust termination – can be heard before a single expert administrative body (i.e. employment standards officers and the Ontario Labour Relations Board) in an expedited process.
19. Where terminated, SAWP workers must be provided with the right to a hearing prior to repatriation.
20. Workers should be provided with protection for their security of status, security of housing, and security of employment under open or sector- specific work permits while a legal dispute about their employment is ongoing.
Renewal/Expiry of Work Permits
21. Rather than being excluded from Canada after four years of work, migrant workers should have a right to apply for permanent residence.
Pathways to Permanent Residence
22. NOC C & D skill level migrant workers – including workers in the SAWP and NOC C & D Pilot Project – must be provided with pathways to permanent residence.

Links

Economic sectors

Agriculture and horticulture workers, Occupations in services - Domestic work, Sales and service occupations - general, Trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations - general, Natural resources, agriculture and related production occupations - general, Labourers in food, beverage and associated products processing, Dancers, and Other

Content types

Policy analysis

Target groups

Policymakers

Geographical focuses

Ontario and Federal

Spheres of activity

Law and Political science

Languages

English