Government of Canada launches consultations to improve living conditions for temporary foreign workers

On October 27, 2020 the Government of Canada has begun consultations with provinces and territories, employers, workers, worker support groups, and other interested parties on a proposal to establish minimum requirements for employer-provided accommodations for the Temporary Foreign Workers – TFW Program – across Canada.

Throughout its Employment and Social Development Canada department, who manages the TFW Program, the Government of Canada is seeking feedback on mandatory employer-provided accommodation requirements as a plan to take additional action to reduce the incidence and impact of COVID-19 outbreaks on farms. 

Since Approximately 50,000 to 60,000 foreign agricultural workers come to work in Canada each year, which accounts for more than 60% of all foreign workers entering Canada under the TFW Program, this action is also very important to ensure employers take the necessary steps to keep workers safe. The quote below, from the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, describes the Government’s position on the matter:

“The health and safety of temporary foreign workers is a key priority for the Government of Canada. Any unsafe working or living conditions are completely unacceptable. While we are proud of the worker protections we have in this country, we recognize that there are important issues that need to be addressed within the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, and we are taking action. Improving accommodations is a major focus of our efforts. We are working tirelessly to ensure that temporary foreign workers’ rights are protected in Canada.”

As a first step, the Government of Canada is seeking input until December 22, 2020 on proposed accommodation requirements in the TFW Program’s primary agriculture stream. Individuals wishing to obtain more information or provide feedback in this consultation should contact Employment and Social Development Canada by sending an email to [email protected] by December 22, 2020.

Next, the Government will soon be launching a survey of temporary foreign worker employers in the agricultural sector to inform the development of new proposed federal accommodations requirements and how they would be implemented. Creating clear and consistent standards will also ensure that employers can fully understand their obligations and can better adhere to them.

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