Temporary Foreign Worker Program: ‘Stiff’ new penalties coming Dec. 1

posted on July 15, 2015

By Susana Mas, CBC News | Link to Article

By Susana Mas, CBC News | Link to Article

The federal government has announced “stiff new consequences” for employers who break the rules when hiring foreign workers, but employers say the lack of an independent appeal process could be time-consuming and costly for individuals and businesses alike.

The changes, which take effect on Dec. 1, come after the government received feedback from 42 stakeholder groups on a discussion paper posted online last September outlining proposed consequences for employers found to have broken the rules.

The new regulations, published in the Canada Gazette this month, apply to employers hiring foreign nationals under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the International Mobility Program and to individuals seeking to hire foreign caregivers.

“Stiff new consequences,” said Employment Minister Pierre Poilievre in a news release last week, “will encourage compliance and help prevent employers from misusing the programs or mistreating workers by ensuring that employers who violate program conditions face appropriate consequences.”

Under the new rules, employers found to be “non-compliant” following an inspection could face a ban from using the program ranging from one to 10 years for each violation, or even a permanent ban for the most serious violations. Currently, the only consequence is a two-year ban.

Employers could also face fines ranging from $500 to $100,000 for each violation. Amendments made following stakeholder feedback will see fines capped at $1 million per year, per employer.

Other amendments following the consultations include:

  • Giving employers at least 30 days to respond in writing to preliminary findings of an investigation, with the possibility of extensions.
  • Allowing employers to voluntarily disclose mistakes and receive a lesser penalty, such as a written warning.
  • Reinstating “good faith” provisions to acknowledge human error, such as administrative errors or misinterpretations, can occur.
  • Posting a so-called “blacklist” online with only the names of employers who have been fined or banned from using the program, instead of the names of all employers found to be “non-compliant.”

Read more