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Budget bolsters temporary foreign worker protections

Vince Versace
Budget bolsters temporary foreign worker protections

Temporary foreign workers and Indigenous workers will see new supports created for them going forward thanks to the 2018 federal budget.

The government has directed $194.1 million over the next five years to ensure the rights of temporary foreign workers in Canada are protected and enforced “through a robust compliance regime,” explained the budget.

“The Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the International Mobility Program are Canada’s two programs that govern the entry of temporary foreign workers,” the budget reads. “Canada has an obligation to ensure these workers, who contribute to the labour market by providing the skills and expertise employers need when qualified Canadian workers are unavailable, are aware of their rights and are protected from abuse.”

This network would support these workers in reporting wrongdoing and provide information on their rights to temporarily remain and work in Canada free from harassment and abuse, — Budget 2018 reads.

The funding for this protective measure for temporary foreign workers includes a commitment of $33.19 million per year after the first five years of committed funding ends.

“Funding will support unannounced inspections under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, the continued implementation of the International Mobility Program compliance regime, and the ongoing collection of labour market information related to open work permits.”

The government also proposes to invest $3.4 million over two years to establish, on a pilot basis, a network of temporary foreign worker support organizations to assist in cases of potential abuses by employers. This funding will be drawn from Employment and Social Development Canada’s existing resources.

“This network would support these workers in reporting wrongdoing and provide information on their rights to temporarily remain and work in Canada free from harassment and abuse,” budget 2018 states.

Budget 2018 also proposes to invest $2 billion over the next five years to support the creation of a new Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Program. A commitment of $408.2 million per year after the first five years of funding was also included in this budget announcement. The new program will replace the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy and is designed to assist “approximately 15,000 more clients gain greater skills and find jobs that will support their long-term career success.”

Other assorted labour-related initiatives included in federal budget 2018, which could be of interest to the construction industry include:

  • Legislating the current Employment Insurance (EI) Working While on Claim pilot rules and expand them to EI maternity and sickness benefits, so that workers can maintain their connection to the labour force during periods of temporary unemployment. Budget 2018 proposes to invest $351.9 million over five years, starting in 2018–19, and $80.1 million per year ongoing, to meet this objective
  • Doubling work placements through the Canada Summer Jobs program. Budget 2018 proposes to invest an additional $448.5 million over five years, starting in 2018–19, in the Youth Employment Strategy
  • Investing $27.5 million over five years, starting in 2018–19, and $5.5 million per year ongoing, from Employment and Social Development Canada’s existing resources, towards creating an Education and Labour Market Longitudinal Linkage Platform.

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