New legislation aims to protect temporary foreign workers in B.C.

posted on October 24, 2018

By CBC News |

The B.C. government is creating a registry aimed at protecting the rights of temporary foreign workers.

Recruiters will be required to have a licence, and employers will have to register in order to take part in the program.

“These workers often pay recruiter’s legal fees for the promise of a job and sometimes those jobs aren’t what they should be,” said Labour Minister Harry Bains.

In some cases, he says, workers are facing unclean and unsafe housing conditions. They’re being bullied and face employers who threaten to deport them.

“Many never get paid or are paid far less than what they’re entitled to.”

The province is concerned many TFWs don’t understand their labour rights or lack the language skills to fight for better conditions.

Those who violate the legislation could lose their licence/registration, face fines or go to jail.

More than 16,000 TFW permits issued in 2017

Of the 47,620 work permits issued to foreign nationals coming to B.C. in 2017, 16,865 of them were under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program — the second most in Canada after Ontario.

Bains stresses that most employers are good, but this legislation is meant to hold bad ones accountable.

The registration process will be free to employers and will be available online.

If the legislation passes, it will include establishing criteria for issuing, refusing, suspending or cancelling a license or registration.

“Not only is today’s law about protecting vulnerable workers but it is also about protecting good employers who play by the rules, pay proper wages that treat workers with respect and dignity,” said Bains.

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