The Saskatchewan Government recently proclaimed The Foreign Worker Recruitment and Immigration Services Act and regulations. The new legislation will protect immigrants and foreign workers from exploitation and mistreatment while they are in the process of immigrating to the province or are being recruited to work.
“The legislation proclaimed will ensure fair treatment of foreign workers coming to Saskatchewan,” Minister responsible for Immigration Bill Boyd said. “This Act is one of the most comprehensive and progressive pieces of legislation in Canada to protect foreign nationals. It will protect newcomers to the province who may be vulnerable to exploitation because of their language ability or lack of knowledge about law or culture.”
Almost 48,000 immigrants have arrived in the province since 2007, with more than 11,000 arriving in 2012. Immigration to Saskatchewan has increased as the economy has grown, and subsequently, employers have an increased need for workers.
The Program Integrity Unit within the Ministry of the Economy has received a total of 353 case files for the period of August 2008 to September 2013. Many of these cases are related to issues regarding the legal rights and responsibilities of foreign workers and employers. About 30 per cent of the cases were not covered by existing federal or provincial legislation.
The new legislation will:
•Require immigration recruiters and immigration consultants to be licensed and sign open and transparent contracts with employers and foreign nationals;
•Require employers to be registered;
•Prohibit employers from charging or recovering recruitment fees from foreign nationals;
•Prohibit unethical conduct against foreign nationals, such as withholding documents or other property, threatening deportation or providing misleading information;
•Allow foreign workers and immigrants to seek compensation if they incur costs that are considered illegal under the Act; and
•Allow fines to be levied of up to $50,000 for an individual and $100,000 for a corporation and up to one year imprisonment for those violating the Act.
Six other Canadian provincial jurisdictions have some form of regulation of foreign worker recruiters, immigration consultants or employers of foreign workers.
All stakeholders will benefit from Saskatchewan being an attractive destination for immigrants.