​Legislation better protects temporary foreign workers from exploitation

People coming to work in B.C. under the federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program will have better protection against exploitation and abuse as a result of new legislation that has been introduced. 
In 2017, the federal government issued approximately 47,620 work permits for foreign nationals destined for B.C., of which 16,865 were issued under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. B.C. is second to only Ontario in terms of the number of work permits issued. The third largest sector is accommodation and food services (8%), followed by construction (6%) and manufacturing (5%). 
The legislation is intended to recognize the important role foreign workers have in B.C.’s growing economy. While most employers and recruiters are committed to treating foreign nationals fairly, there are some who require closer scrutiny and enforcement action.

To watch the announcement from Harry Bains, BC's Minister of Labour, click below (will open in new window).

If passed by the legislature, the legislation will improve protection for workers and accountability of recruiters and employers by:
  • requiring foreign worker recruiters to be licensed, and employers who recruit and hire temporary foreign workers to be registered.
  • establishing criteria for issuing, refusing, suspending or cancelling a licence or registration.
  • imposing tougher penalties for recruiters and employers who violate the legislation, including not just loss of licence or registration but financial penalties and possible jail time.
  • allowing government to recover, and return to workers, any fees charged illegally by recruiters.
  • creating two registries, one for foreign worker recruiters and one for employers, to hold both accountable for their actions and to improve government response to health, housing or other violations of B.C. laws. The registration will be a cost-free and simple online process for employers.
Once the legislation receives royal assent, the Ministry of Labour will take next steps to establish the foreign worker recruiter and employer registries.​ Having the registries in place will allow government to proactively investigate recruiters and employers of foreign workers, holding them accountable should violations occur.
Recruiters and employers who violate the legislation could lose their licence or registration, and will be subject to financial penalties and possibly jail time of up to one year. The proposed legislation will permit government to recover, and return to workers, fees charged illegally to workers by recruiters and employers to get jobs.
  • In 2017, there were 47,620 work permits issued for foreign workers destined for B.C. — 16,865 under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and 30,755 under the International Mobility Program.
  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting sectors account for nearly half of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in B.C., with around 9,000 workers.
  • The next largest sector is information and cultural industries, which accounts for 9%, or approximately 1,700 workers. This sector includes tech and film related occupations.
  • The third largest sector is accommodation and food services (8%), followed by construction (6%) and manufacturing (5%).
  • Under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, 83% of work permit holders are in the Lower Mainland region, 5% are in the Thompson Okanagan region and 4% are in the Vancouver Island and coast region.

Read the original press release here: https://archive.news.gov.bc.ca/releases/news_releases_2017-2021/2018LBR0017-002047.htm

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