New Legislation Aims to Protect Foreign Workers
A new Foreign Worker Recruitment and Immigration Services Act is meant to defend the rights of workers important to fill the holes in Saskatchewan’s labour market.
“It is an act that will give the ministry powers to ensure that when we bring in foreign workers to help us grow that they are treated fairly and in a way that all Saskatchewan people would think is acceptable,” said Saskatchewan Minister of Energy and Resources Tim McMillan.
The province describes the new legislation as one that will protect immigrants and foreign workers from exploitation and mistreatment while they are in the process of immigrating to the province or are being recruited to work.
“With this legislation it certainly gives more tools,” McMillan said. “It requires that all immigration consultants and agencies have to be registered with the government and they will act in accordance with the legislation under penalty of substantial fine.”
Those fines could equal as much as $50,000 to $100,000. Those who violate the act could also face prison time.
“The legislation will ensure fair treatment of foreign workers coming to Saskatchewan,” Minister responsible for Immigration Bill Boyd said. “This Act is one of the most comprehensive and progressive pieces of legislation in Canada to protect foreign nationals. It will protect newcomers to the province who may be vulnerable to exploitation because of their language ability or lack of knowledge about law or culture.”
Almost 48,000 immigrants have arrived in the province since 2007, with more than 11,000 new immigrants arriving in 2012.
“Saskatchewan has a growing need for skilled workers,” Boyd said. “By making sure workers will be fairly treated and protected, we will be able to attract those skilled workers and meet pressures in our labour market.”
The Program Integrity Unit within the Ministry of the Economy has received a total of 353 case files for the period of August 2008 to September 2013. Many of these cases are related to issues regarding the legal rights and responsibilities of foreign workers and employers. About 30 per cent of the cases were not covered by existing federal or provincial legislation.
The province states their new legislation will require immigration recruiters and immigration consultants to be licensed and sign open and transparent contracts with employers and foreign nationals; require employers to be registered; prohibit employers from charging or recovering recruitment fees from foreign nationals; prohibit unethical conduct against foreign nationals, such as withholding documents or other property, threatening deportation or providing misleading information; and allow foreign workers and immigrants to seek compensation if they incur costs that are considered illegal under the Act.
You can get more information about the Act at www.saskimmigrationcanada.ca/protection-for-foreign-workers-legislation.
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