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Governments of Canada and Saskatchewan Strengthen Foreign Worker Protection

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 26, 2010) - To protect temporary foreign workers from exploitation and abuse, the governments of Canada and Saskatchewan signed an information-sharing agreement today.

Mr. Ed Komarnicki, Parliamentary Secretary to the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, and the Honourable Rob Norris, Minister of Advanced Education, Employment and Labour and Minister Responsible for Immigration for Saskatchewan, announced the signing of a Letter of Understanding between the two governments.

"All foreign workers in Canada have the same rights and protections as Canadians, and our government is committed to the integrity of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program," said Mr. Komarnicki. "We are working with the Province of Saskatchewan to promote information sharing that will ensure that provincial labour standards are enforced and that employers fulfill the terms of employment."

"Our priority is to ensure that the rights and well-being of all Saskatchewan workers are upheld and protected, including newcomers and temporary foreign workers," said Minister Norris. "Through this agreement, our governments will be able to share information that improves the protection of foreign workers' rights, and make certain that employers are fulfilling their responsibilities—thereby securing Saskatchewan's reputation as a great place to work and live."

The two governments will also work together on outreach activities and share communications tools that will help inform both employers and temporary foreign workers about their rights and responsibilities. The federal government has similar information-sharing agreements in place with the governments of Alberta, Manitoba and British Columbia.

In Saskatchewan, the provincial government has introduced a Program Integrity Unit to help protect immigrants and temporary foreign workers, and has created fact sheets in numerous languages that address the issues these workers may face in the workplace. More recently, the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program instituted a Code of Conduct and Applicant Declaration form, which lays out the minimum standards immigration representatives must abide by and ensures that applicants to the Program are aware of their representative's responsibilities.

The federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program helps employers meet their labour needs when Canadians or permanent residents are not readily available. The Program has a number of provisions to ensure that Canadians have the first opportunity to fill these jobs, and to protect the well-being of foreign workers during their stay. Foreign workers' wages and working conditions must be comparable to those offered to Canadians or permanent residents.

For more information on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, please visit the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada Web site at www.hrsdc.gc.ca.

This news release is available in alternative formats upon request.

backgrounder

Temporary Foreign Worker Program

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) is the Government of Canada's principal tool to help employers meet immediate skills and labour market needs when Canadian workers or permanent residents cannot be found.

The TFWP has a number of components, including: the Live-in Caregiver Program; the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program; the Pilot Project for Occupations Requiring Lower Levels of Formal Training (National Occupational Classification C and D); and the hiring of foreign academics.

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC)/Service Canada and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) jointly administer the TFWP. HRSDC/Service Canada deals strictly with employers applying for temporary foreign workers, while CIC deals directly with the temporary foreign workers.

HRSDC/Service Canada works in partnership with provincial and other federal government departments to ensure that employers and foreign workers receive complete and accurate information regarding their rights and responsibilities under the TFWP.

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

The TFWP is managed by HRSDC and CIC, and operates under the authority of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and its Regulations. The Act prescribes who may enter and work in Canada. It also outlines the respective roles and responsibilities of HRSDC and CIC in regulating the entry of foreign nationals into Canada's workforce.

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

Many of the employers who want to hire a foreign national must apply to HRSDC/Service Canada for a Labour Market Opinion (LMO). HRSDC/Service Canada assesses the potential impact of the worker on Canada's labour market—in other words, how the offer of employment will affect Canadian jobs.

As part of this LMO, HRSDC/Service Canada works case by case to ensure that employers offer prevailing wage rates and acceptable working conditions, and that hiring the foreign worker will not have a negative impact on the Canadian labour market. It also ensures that the employer has first made a sincere effort to fill vacant positions with Canadian workers. If these conditions are met, a positive Labour Market Opinion is given, and the employer receives a letter to that effect.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Most of the foreign nationals who wish to work in Canada require a work permit from CIC. Following receipt of a positive Labour Market Opinion from HRSDC/Service Canada, CIC determines whether it will issue a work permit, allowing the foreign worker into Canada.

Provincial and Territorial Governments

For most occupations, the working conditions of temporary foreign workers are the responsibility of the labour department in each province or territory. Temporary foreign workers are covered by the same labour legislation and have the same rights as Canadian workers. Ninety per cent of occupations are provincially regulated, and employment and labour standards for those occupations are the responsibility of the provincial and territorial governments. The other 10 per cent of occupations are federally regulated, and the employment and labour standards fall under the Canada Labour Code.

Employers

Employers request an LMO or an Arranged Employment Opinion from HRSDC/Service Canada, and are responsible for informing their prospective temporary foreign workers of the Labour Market Opinion assessment results. To receive a positive LMO, employers must meet all of the following requirements:

Under the TFWP, they must:

* demonstrate sincere efforts to recruit Canadians, and explain why interested Canadians were not hired; and
* consult with the union if the position is covered under a collective agreement.

Under the Pilot Project for Occupations Requiring Lower Levels of Formal Training, they must:

* sign an employer-employee contract outlining wages, duties and conditions related to the transportation, accommodation, health and occupational safety of the foreign worker;
* cover all recruitment costs related to the hiring of the foreign worker;
* help the worker find suitable and affordable accommodation;
* pay the foreign worker's airfare to and from Canada;
* provide medical coverage until the worker is eligible for provincial health insurance coverage;
* register the worker under the appropriate provincial workers' compensation and workplace safety insurance plans; and
* when the employment offer is longer than 12 months, indicate that wages will be reviewed and adjusted, if necessary, at the end of a year to ensure that prevailing wage rates are being respected.

For more information about the Government of Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program, visit the HRSDC Web site at www.hrsdc.gc.ca or the CIC Web site at www.cic.gc.ca.





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