- Ban fees being charged directly or indirectly by recruiters to live-in-caregivers (e.g., recruitment/placement fees and fees for other supplementary services);
- Stop employers from charging or recovering recruitment/placement fees from live-in-caregivers;
- Allow live-in-caregivers up to three and a half years to make a complaint or to recover prohibited fees (This is better than the ESA, which gives workers only 6 months to make claims on unpaid wages);
- Prohibit reprisals against live-in caregivers for exercising their rights under the legislation;
- Prohibit an employer or recruiter in Ontario from taking possession of a live-in caregiver’s property, including documents such as passports;
- Authorize Ministry of Labour employment standards officers to proactively enforce the legislation; and
- Provide regulation-making authority to add other classes of temporary foreign workers.
However, tens of thousands of other temporary foreign workers and permanent residents also need protection from recruitment and other fees charged to workers for employment in Ontario.
The Coalition for Change, a coalition of community groups, labour unions, temporary foreign workers and advocates, celebrates this first step for caregivers, but urges the provincial government to use the regulatory power granted in Bill 210 to expand protection for all workers who face exploitation from unscrupulous recruiters and exorbitant fees.Under Bill 210, agencies are prevented from seizing workers’ passports and identity documents and employers are prohibited from charging caregivers for the costs of recruitment. These changes will bring caregivers some of the protections that other Ontario workers have.
However, workers who are being brought to Ontario under the temporary foreign worker program to work in agriculture, restaurants, hospitality and other sectors also face huge fees to get jobs that often pay below minimum standards. “We are hearing horror stories from other temporary foreign workers who are being coerced to pay $10,000 or $15,000 to work in Ontario,” says Chris Ramsaroop, of Justice for Migrant Workers. “These workers’ passports and health cards are often held by both employers and recruiters, making it very difficult to speak out about abuses on the job.”
“This first step to protect caregivers must be extended to include other temporary foreign workers who also face fees, passport seizures and costs of recruitment,” says Deena Ladd, of the Workers’ Action Centre. “Bill 210 gives the government the power to extend regulations to ensure that no workers – temporary foreign workers or resident workers – face recruitment fees. We need a legislative framework that protects all workers.”
Protections for caregivers and temporary foreign workers are necessary because of the federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) that ties workers to one employer and denies permanent residency status and benefits that other workers have. The federal TFWP creates the conditions that give rise to the vulnerability and exploitation of caregivers and temp foreign workers and must be completely overhauled. Several provinces have introduced legislation to prohibit fees for all temporary foreign workers.
This Media Advisory prepared by: The Coalition for Change: Caregivers and Temporary Foreign Workers, Justice for Migrant Workers and the Workers’ Action Centre.