Recruiters charging foreign workers in Ontario illegal fees as high as $12,000 for jobs that might not exist, report finds

posted on April 10, 2014

By Rachel Browne, Financial Post | Link to Article

By Rachel Browne, Financial Post | Link to Article

The number of temporary foreign workers in Canada has more than tripled since 2000 to 338,213 in 2012 providing a boon for job recruiters, some of whom are exploiting foreign workers, a new report finds.

Recruiters are charging fees as high as $12,000 for jobs that might not exist and seizing workers’ passports, the report, published Tuesday by the Metcalf Foundation, says.

Such practices persist among live-in caregivers, who are theoretically protected against these practices by Ontario law, as well as migrant workers, who aren’t protected, in other “lower skill” industries such as agriculture, food processing, and cleaning.

“There’s a huge problem,” said report author Fay Faraday, human rights lawyer and professor at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. “We have this law in Ontario that prohibits recruitment fees. It applies only to live-in caregivers, but the law isn’t working for caregivers and it provides absolutely no protection for other migrant workers, even though they are subject to the exact same predatory practices.”

The only migrant workers protected from recruitment fees under the 2009 Ontario Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act are caregivers like nannies and workers who care for the elderly and disabled.

According to the report, some recruiters are charging caregivers illegal fees ranging from $3,500 to $12,000. If they’re caught, individuals who break the law can be fined up to $50,000 or jailed for one year. Companies can be fined up to $100,000 the first offence.