Temporary Foreign Workers in Canada & COVID-19: Know Your Rights

Published on: May 7th, 2020

The Government of Canada has instituted new protections for temporary foreign workers to ensure that they are able to respect all federal, provincial, and territorial requirements aimed at protecting public health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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While Canada has implemented temporary restrictions banning non-essential travel, foreign nationals with work and student permits are allowed to enter the country.  If you are traveling to Canada, you are required by law to isolate yourself for a period of 14 days, during which time you are to monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. If you do present symptoms of the disease, you are then required to seek medical attention and follow the instructions given to you by public health officials.

To ensure that temporary foreign workers (TFWs) are able to respect the mandatory 14 day isolation period, and any further quarantine orders required by provincial, federal, or territorial governments, Canada has enacted new regulations to ensure that employers of TFWs support these public health requirements.

New requirements: wages

  • The employer must provide wages to the TFW for the initial 14 day isolation period and for any additional mandatory quarantine requirements if the individual develops symptoms related to COVID-19

New requirements: accommodations (if provided by the employer)

  • Provide the TFW with accommodations that are separate from those provided to persons who are not in quarantine and that allow the foreign worker to remain at least two metres away from any other person
  • Provide the TFW with cleaning products for the purposes of cleaning and disinfecting the accommodations regularly
  • Provide a TFW who develops any signs or symptoms of COVID-19, with accommodations that have a bedroom and a bathroom that are solely for the use of the foreign national while they isolate themselves

“It’s critically important that both employers and temporary foreign workers know their rights and obligations. These new requirements will help keep workers and the public safe during the pandemic, while also protecting the productivity of Canadian businesses who rely on temporary foreign workers.”

Attorney Renaud Dery

In order to ensure compliance with the new regulations, the Government of Canada will be increasing inspections of facilities where an outbreak is reported and there will be potential financial or administrative consequences for employers who do not abide by the new requirements.

To help offset the costs for the Canadian food production/processing industries, government grants of up to $1,500 per employee will be provided to employers to help ensure their operations comply with these new regulations.

If you need to report an abuse of the temporary foreign worker program, including any of the above-mentioned changes, you can do so by following the instructions on this page.

If you’re interested in living and working in Canada, the best way to get started is by filling out our free online assessment. From there, a member of our team will contact you to discuss your options.

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