Farms with foreign temp ag workers subject to inspections

Canadian farms relying on temporary foreign workers to fill labour shortages will now be required to submit to inspections to ensure employers aren’t abusing the program.

The federal government last week announced a new raft of changes to its Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), which it said are meant “to ensure that Canadians are always first in line for available jobs, while ensuring temporary foreign workers are protected.”

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) confirmed Thursday the latest changes apply to “all streams” of the TFWP, including agricultural streams.

The latest changes to the TFWP authorize the federal government to conduct inspections to make sure employers are meeting the conditions of the program. Inspections ca be conducted over a six-year period “when necessary.”

The revisions also allow TFWP officials to conduct site visits and interviews with temp foreign workers and “other employees,” and to compel employers to provide documents to verify compliance with the program.

The changes also extend from two to six years the period during which ESDC and Citizenship and Immigration Canada can verify wages, working conditions and occupations provided to previously employed temporary foreign workers at the time of a new labour market opinion (LMO) or work permit application.

The changes also allow the government to ban “non-compliant” employers from the program for two years and immediately add their names to a public “black list.”

The government said it will also “strengthen criteria” for assessing LMOs and work permit applications. LMOs, issued by ESDC, assess an employer’s TFWP application on the basis of the “likely impact that hiring a temporary foreign worker will have on the Canadian labour market.” In some cases, employers have to get an LMO in order to complete a work permit application.

The government, in its latest list of TFWP revisions, has now also authorized itself to revoke or suspend LMOs, or refuse to process LMO applications, and to revoke and refuse to process work permits “when necessary.”

“These changes are part of a larger reform of the program that demonstrates our government’s commitment to protect foreign workers from the risk of abuse and exploitation,” Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said in a government release Dec. 28.

One of the TFWP’s goals, he said, “is to deal with labour shortages on a temporary basis, and these reforms will help ensure that the program is used as intended.” — Network

Related stories:
Temp ag worker imports exempt from federal crackdown, May 1, 2013
Seasonal ag work exempt from new foreign temp rules, March 25, 2011

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