Proposed changes to TFW program would allow workers to more easily change employers

Changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations could be on the way, following proposed changes published in the Canadian Gazette. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) are seeking comments from all interested parties on a proposal to amend the regulations to allow temporary foreign workers more flexibility in changing employers.

Under current rules,  a TFW is restricted to one employer and must obtain an employer-specific work permit from IRCC. Workers are able to change their employer, however, under the current rules any employee trying to do so would be subject to existing immigration requirements which can be costly and take time.

Advocacy groups have pushed for change for quite some time as they’ve investigated abuse of power and worker abuse in some situations, along with reports of exploitation when workers have wanted to leave.

With that in mind, the IRCC and ESDC are considering changes to support a more inclusive work permit. Rather than an employer specific permit, the amendments would make the permit occupation-specific. The permit would fall under the Primary Agriculture Stream and Low-wage Stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

“The mobility offered by this type of work permit could help workers leave an abusive workplace and potentially promote more competitive working conditions for foreign and domestic workers,” the proposed changes read.

Both departments say they recognize a number of program design elements would have to be put in place before an occupation-specific work permit could be implemented, which is why they’re seeking comment from interested parties on certain elements such as would it increase the likelihood that foreign workers would seek out better job opportunities within their occupation?

Comments may be submitted within 30 days of publishing in the Gazette.

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