The rights of temporary foreign workers in Canada
Did you know that 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.
Table of contents
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
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.
Ask your questions!
If you have a broad question about immigration to Canada, please fill out the following form. However, if you have specific questions, book a consultation session. You may alternatively fill out our free assessment form.
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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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