More and more workers are coming to Canada under temporary work permits. Many migrant workers are forced to put up with violations of their rights as their work permits tie them to one employer, and don’t provide protection if they are sent back home for complaining about working conditions. This affects working conditions for all workers in Ontario.
At a provincial level, employment standards must be updated and recruitment practices regulated to reduce the barriers that migrant workers face in accessing their employment standards rights. Migrant workers also must have the right to collective representation and access to human rights, health and safety protection and workers’ compensation.
At the federal level, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program needs fundamental reforms to address workers’ precarious immigration status and permit workers to access basic rights and entitlements. Migrant workers need permanent status on arrival, an end to employer-specific work permits, a right to equal access to social programs, and a fair appeals process for repatriations.
Our Community Allies
Improved Protections for Live-in Caregivers – March 22, 2010
After many years of organizing to improve conditions by the live-in caregiver community and their allies, new protections for live-in caregivers were won with the passage of Bill 210. The changes came into effect March 22, 2010. These are important changes that could improve the lives of live-in caregivers, many of whom are women from racialized communities. Unfortunately, these changes only apply to live-in caregivers, and not other vulnerable workers under the Temporary Foreign Workers program.
A summary of Bill 210 legislative changes:
- Ban fees being charged directly or indirectly by recruiters to live-in-caregivers (e.g., recruitment/placement fees and fees for other supplementary services);
- Stop employers from charging or recovering recruitment/placement fees from live-in-caregivers;
- Allow live-in-caregivers up to three and a half years to make a complaint or to recover prohibited fees (This is better than the ESA, which gives workers only 6 months to make claims on unpaid wages);
- Prohibit reprisals against live-in caregivers for exercising their rights under the legislation;
- Prohibit an employer or recruiter in Ontario from taking possession of a live-in caregiver’s property, including documents such as passports;
- Authorize Ministry of Labour employment standards officers to proactively enforce the legislation; and
- Provide regulation-making authority to add other classes of temporary foreign workers.
More Improvements Needed
Though the new protections for caregivers are a step forward in protecting the rights of vulnerable workers, there is still much work to be done. The Workers’ Action Centre and its allies will continue to fight for more needed changes, including:
- Extending the protections to ALL workers under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (ie not just live-in caregivers)
- Ensuring employers and recruitment agencies are jointly liable for any prohibited direct or indirect fee charged to workers regardless of where and how the fee was levied
- Extending the 3.5 years time limit to cover all ESA violations for all temporary foreign workers.