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OTTAWA — New rules giving government officials the power to inspect Canadian workplaces without warrants and to blacklist employers who abuse the country’s foreign worker program are set to come into effect at the end of the month.
The regulations were announced in June, but don’t come into force until Dec. 31. They are the most recent in a string of reforms to the country’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program which aims to ensure foreign workers are only hired when Canadians can’t be found to fill job vacancies.
“These reforms will help ensure that the program is used as intended,” Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said in a statement.
When 2014 rolls around, federal officials will be able to enter workplaces unannounced, interview foreign workers about their working conditions and demand documentation about employer compliance with Canadian laws surrounding foreign workers. Inspections can be conducted within six years of foreign worker permits being approved.
Officials will only need to obtain warrants if workplaces are private dwellings. Advance notice of inspections will be given to employers “in the majority of cases.”
Employers found to be abusing workers or failing to make reasonable efforts to hire and train Canadian workers can have their permission to hire foreign workers suspended or revoked.
Workplaces failing to comply with the conditions of their foreign worker applications will be given an opportunity to take corrective action before they are deemed non-compliant. Non-compliant employers will be prohibited from hiring foreign workers for two years and will be identified on a public ban list.
The foreign worker program has been the subject of ongoing review. This past spring the government mandated that employers pay temporary foreign workers at the same rate as Canadian workers doing comparable work and scrapped a fast-track process that aimed to speed up the issuing of work permits. In July, Human Resources and Skill Development Canada stopped issuing temporary foreign worker permits for businesses linked to the sex industry.
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