October 27, 2020 Gatineau, Quebec Employment and Social Development Canada
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has made significant investments to increase protections for temporary foreign workers, prevent the spread of the virus, and address outbreaks on farms when they do occur. The Government continues to work with partners at home and abroad through the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program to ensure employers take the necessary steps to keep workers safe. Despite these efforts, the pandemic has highlighted long-standing challenges, including certain housing and living conditions.
That is why today, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Marie-Claude Bibeau, announced that the Government of Canada has begun consultations with provinces and territories, employers, workers, worker support groups, and other interested parties on a proposal to establish minimum requirements for employer-provided accommodations for the TFW Program across Canada.
As a first step, the Government of Canada is seeking input until December 22, 2020 on proposed accommodation requirements in the TFW Program’s primary agriculture stream. The Government is also seeking feedback on potential approaches to strengthen oversight of worker accommodations, both prior to and after workers’ arrivals. The consultations will inform the development of a lasting approach to improve living conditions for workers. Creating clear and consistent standards will also ensure employers fully understand their obligations and can better adhere to them.
The Government of Canada will also soon be launching a survey of temporary foreign worker employers in the agricultural sector to inform the development of new proposed federal accommodations requirements and how they would be implemented. This survey will help the Government better understand the variety of accommodations arrangements currently being used to support temporary foreign workers in the agricultural sector while they are employed in Canada.
The Government of Canada will complement existing standards at the provincial level, and will take further federal action in partnership to help improve protections for those who are part of the TFW Program.