Last month, British Columbia’s Minister of Labour, Harry Bains, announced that as of December 15, 2020, a new policy will be implemented that will protect temporary foreign workers in BC. Until recently, British Columbia did not have a system available to certify and register the employers who hire temporary foreign workers.
The new policy includes these three programs: The Temporary Foreign Worker Program, the Home Child-Care Provider Pilot, or the Home Support Worker Pilot.
Employers who wish to hire temporary foreign workers through these programs have a deadline of December 15, 2020, to register their company details with the provincial government.
This new policy will ensure that all employees in British Columbia. are treated fairly and equally. In a statement, the provincial government said: “People from abroad, who come here will be paid for the hours they work, have a job description that matches the work they perform and ensures their rights and safety are protected while on the job”.
These new changes also mean that there will be inspections conducted on these employers to make sure the appropriate workplace laws are being followed.
In a statement, Harry Bains, Minister of Labour declared, “Our government is committed to ensuring that regardless of your immigration status if you’re working in B.C., your rights and protections are the same as any worker, these important protections for vulnerable workers in our province are long overdue and will ensure they are not taken advantage of.”
The implementation of this registry system is particularly important since the Mexican consulate estimates that over 6,000 Mexican nationals will be working in Vancouver by the end of 2020. This will ensure these temporary foreign employees will be protected while working away from home.
Lana Popham, the Minister of Agriculture was pleased with the announcement, and said “Temporary foreign workers are integral to our agricultural sector and B.C. relies on them for important jobs like harvesting the crops we depend on for our daily meals and to build our province’s food security, the new registration requirement for employers will help ensure foreign workers are fairly treated.”
Although this is a step in the right direction, Natalie Drolet, who is the executive director of the Migrant Workers’ Centre in Vancouver is advocating on behalf of all temporary foreign workers and asking that these benefits extend to every international employee. Unfortunately, the program excludes workers in other fields such as grocery store clerks and truck drivers.
Childcare is another field that commonly employs temporary foreign workers in British Columbia, and the new policy is very important to protect these employees as well. “Caregivers arriving in B.C. as foreign workers have sacrificed so much to care for our children and our loved ones,” said Marla Brock, CEO of Kidcoover, a child care agency, “This employer registry is a powerful step forward in ensuring that they are protected, valued and continue to thrive here, for all that these workers do to move our economy forward, we must always champion initiatives that raise awareness of their rights and protections and keep their employers within the sightlines of government.”
In fall 2018, the Temporary Foreign Worker Protection Act was passed. This employer registry is the final step in fully implementing this act which will ensure equitable treatment for all temporary foreign workers in British Columbia.
Managing partner Aleksandar (Alex) Stojicevic reminds employers that they have until December 15 to register, “There are fines for not registering as well as additional fines for recruiters who don’t register and pay the requisite deposit under a different part of the same enabling legislation.”
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