Applying for an open work permit for vulnerable workers in Canada

Applying for an open work permit for vulnerable workers in Canada

Temporary foreign workers have the same rights and workplace protections as Canadians and permanent residents. In this article, we’ll share with you a list of rights that all workers, including temporary foreign workers, have by law in Canada. Also, we’ll explore an option for vulnerable workers in Canada that are being abused or at risk of being abused.

Before you apply for a work permit

According to IRCC’s Website, before you apply for a work permit, your employer must give you a copy of your employment agreement. The employment agreement, which must be in English or French, should refer to the same occupation, wages and working conditions as your job offer. Additionally, both you and your employer must sign this agreement.

Your rights while working in Canada

Your employer must:

  •  give you information about your rights
  •  give you a signed copy of your employment agreement before you apply for your work permit
  •  pay you for your work as stated in your employment agreement (including overtime work if it’s included in your agreement)
  •  provide you with a workplace free of abuse,
  •  follow the employment and recruitment standards of the province or territory where you work
  •  help you access health care services if you are hurt or become sick at work

What your employer cannot do:

  •  force you to do unsafe work or work that’s not in your employment agreement
  •  force you to work if you are sick or hurt
  •  force you to work overtime if it’s not in your employment agreement
  •  punish you for reporting mistreatment or unsafe work, or for cooperating with an inspection by the government
  •  take your passport or work permit away from you
  •  deport you from Canada or change your immigration status
  •  make you pay back recruitment fees they may have paid to hire you

<<Also Read: New Amendments for Temporary Foreign Workers are Now in Force>>

About health and safety at work

If you are hurt or are sick at work you should tell your supervisor and get medical attention, says IRCC’s website. Also, your employer must allow you access to a health care provider such as a doctor, nurse or pharmacist. For example, it must:

  • give you time off to seek medical attention
  • make a phone available to call emergency services (an ambulance)
  • give you information on how to get health care
  • help you get to the health care provider

Please be aware that your employer does not have to pay for you to get to a hospital, and that you can speak privately with a health care provider.

In terms of safety, your employer can’t force you to do work that is dangerous. Also, they can’t refuse to pay you for your work. Your employer must look into any danger that is reported at work and you have the right to refuse to do the work until you and your employer agree that:

  • the danger is removed
  • you received the proper equipment and training
  • the problem no longer exists

In addition, your employer must follow employment laws, and health and safety laws. They also have to train you to do your job safely. Moreover, they need to give you equipment and training if your job requires you to use chemical products.

How to get help

If your employer is breaking the rules of the International Mobility Program (IMP) you can call Service Canada’s tip line: 1-866-602-9448. Please note that this service is confidential and it is available in more than 200 languages.

You can also report abuse to Service Canada using its online form.

Applying for an open work permit for vulnerable workers in Canada

If you consider that you are being abused or at risk of being abused, you may be eligible to apply for an open work permit for vulnerable workers. An open work permit lets you change jobs by giving you permission to work for almost any employer in Canada. However, it’s a temporary solution and has an expiry date, and can’t be renewed.

You can apply for this open work permit if you

  • are inside Canada
  • have a valid employer-specific work permit
    • this is a work permit that has your employer’s name on it and isn’t expired (or you applied to extend it before it expired)
  • are being abused or at risk of being abused in relation to your job in Canada

If you’re approved for this work permit, it should give you enough time to find a new employer and apply for a new work permit.

How to apply for the vulnerable worker permit?

The best option is to apply online. Of course, when you are applying, make sure to present convincing documents to support your claims. Evidence could include:

  • a letter, statement or report from an abuse support organization, medical doctor, health care professional, etc;
  • a sworn statement, also known as an affidavit, from yourself;
  • a copy of an official report you submitted to an enforcement agency, such as a police or Canada Border Services Agency report;
  • a copy of an official complaint submitted to a provincial government enforcement agency, such as an employment standards branch;
  • a victim impact statement;
  • email or text messages;
  • pay stubs or bank statements;
  • photos showing injuries or working conditions;
  • witness testimony.

However, if you do not know how to apply online, you may consider approaching one of the enforcement organizations. For example:

Please, be aware that for this application you are exempt from paying a processing fee to the government of Canada. If you need more information, please visit the government’s website.

Relevant articles:

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    This article provides information of a general nature only. Considering the fluid nature of the immigration world, it may no longer be current. Of course, the item does not give legal advice. Therefore, do not rely on it as legal advice or immigration advice. Consequently, no one could hold us accountable for the content of these articles. Of course, if you have specific legal questions, you must consult a lawyer. Alternatively, if you are looking for immigration advice, book an appointment.

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    Andrea Neira