Guide for Temporary Foreign Workers in Canada

By Remitbee - Jan 28, 2021

The Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program is a Canadian immigration option that allows individuals who are neither Canadian citizens nor permanent residents to work in Canada in positions that are facing labor shortages and are unfilled by Canadians. In 2017, there were about 550,000 temporary foreign workers in Canada and they were particularly important in agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting, mining, quarrying, oil and gas extraction, manufacturing, accommodation and food services, administrative and support services, waste management, and remediation services, professional, scientific and technical services, arts, entertainment, recreation, information, and cultural industries.

However, a decrease in the number of new TFWs is evident because of the coronavirus pandemic. If you were able to come recently or you’ve been here for quite a while, you’d still want to know that you are protected by law and it is important that you understand your rights while you are in Canada as a temporary foreign worker. There may be some differences depending on where you work in Canada but here are some general tips.

#1 The Right to an Employment Contract

It should cover details about your job duties, deductions from pay (for the Canada Pension Plan, Employment Insurance and income tax), and conditions of employment (includes the maximum number of hours you will work each day and each week for regular pay, break times, and days off). Additionally, if you are hired as a TFW in a low-wage position or under the Agricultural stream, your employer must pay for all your transportations costs to and from Canada, provide you with private health insurance until you are eligible for the provincial or territorial health insurance plan, and ensure you have a place to live. It may be a long read before you sign but it is for your protection. So, read thoroughly and make sure that both of you respect the conditions in this agreement.

#2 Right to Change Employers

The work permit that you used to come to Canada may only allow you to work for your current employer. However, your employer cannot penalize or deport you for looking for another job. But, make sure that your new employer got permission from the Government of Canada to hire you as a TFW and you will also need to apply for a new work permit before changing jobs except when you are under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program.

#3 Right to be given advance notice before firing you or laying you off from your job

This is to give you time to look for a new job before being out of work. A termination pay must be paid to you if they do not give you advance notice. However, if you committed a crime such as theft or fraud or lied about your qualifications, you could be fired without notice.

#4 Right to Complain

If you believe your employer is not following the law, you can complain to your provincial or territorial labor standards office.

#5 Right to Refuse to Do Work That You Believe Is A Serious Risk

Your employer cannot force you to do work that you believe is dangerous for your health or safety. They cannot fire you or refuse to pay you. An investigation may be done and you may only return to work until you both agree that the problem or danger no longer exists. If a problem still persists, a provincial or territorial of

#6 Right to Suitable Accommodation

If you are hired as a temporary foreign worker in a low-wage position, your employer is responsible for ensuring that suitable and affordable accommodation is available or offer you accommodation in their primary residence. Likewise, if you are a caregiver and you live in your employer’s primary residence, you should not be charged for rent or meals and your bedroom must be furnished with a lock and a safety bolt on the inside, a window, and meets the safety standards of the municipality and the province or territory.

Moving to another country really presents a lot of challenges. But knowing that you are protected by the law puts you at ease. If you have questions about the laws that apply to you, please contact the employment standards office in the province or territory where you are working. You do not need anyone’s permission and an employer cannot penalize you or have you deported for contacting them.

Additionally, once you have been paid your salary, you always have the freedom to choose how you want to send money to your family back home if you need to.

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