Susan Kootnekoff is the founder of Inspire Law, an Okanagan based-law practice. She has been practicing law since 1994, with brief stints away to begin raising children. Susan has experience in many areas of law, but is most drawn to areas in which she can make a positive difference in people’s lives, including employment law. She has been a member of the Law Society of Alberta since 1994 and a member of the Law Society of British Columbia since 2015. Susan grew up in Saskatchewan. Her parents were both entrepreneurs, and her father was also a union leader who worked tirelessly to improve the lives of workers. Before moving to B.C., Susan practiced law in both Calgary and Fort McMurray, AB. Living and practicing law in Fort McMurray made a lasting impression on Susan. It was in this isolated and unique community that her interest in employment law, and Canada’s oil sands industry, took hold. In 2013, Susan moved to the Okanagan with her family, where she currently resides. photo:contributed

Kootnekoff: Temporary Foreign Worker Protection Act

Bill 48, the Temporary Foreign Worker Protection Act, B.C. has received royal assent.

While these provisions will not come into effect until the government issues additional regulations, recruiters and employers of temporary foreign workers will need to become familiar with these changes.

The intention of the Act is to provide greater protection to temporary foreign workers. It will require individual foreign worker recruiters to be licensed, and prospective employers of temporary foreign workers to hold a certificate of registration. The Act will create a registry, and impose certain obligations on recruiters and employers of foreign workers. It will provide for enforcement of those obligations, and set out processes for re-considerations and appeals of decisions made under the Act.

A “foreign worker” is a person who is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada who is an employee, as defined in the Employment Standards Act, in B.C. or seeking employment in B.C. This includes those whose status in Canada allows them to work in Canada, such as holders of work permits and study permits, and those from outside of Canada who are interested in working in B.C.

Licensing of foreign worker recruiters and employer certificates of registration will be administered by the Director of Employment Standards. Some exemptions are contemplated.

Licenses and certificates can be refused, such as if the Director determines that the applicant will not act with integrity, honesty or in the public interest, or in accordance with certain laws.

Certificates issued to employers under the Act will be valid for up to three years, at which point the employer must reapply. The Director retains the power to suspend, cancel, or amend the terms of the certificate.

Certain conduct is prohibited, such as:

  1. Providing false or misleading information on recruitment services, immigration, immigration services, employment, housing for foreign workers or the laws;
  2. Holding a foreign national’s passport or other official documents;
  3. Misrepresenting employment opportunities, including a position, duties, length of employment, wages and benefits or other terms of employment;
  4. Without lawful cause, threatening deportation or other action; and
  5. Taking action against a person for participating in a proceeding by a government agency or for making a complaint or inquiry to a government agency.

Recruiters will also be prohibited from directly or indirectly charging fees or expenses to temporary foreign workers in connection with recruiting services.

A registry of foreign worker recruiters and registered employers will also be created. The Act requires the names of the foreign worker recruiter licencees to be published, to bring the information to the public’s attention.

The Director will be empowered to inquire into the character, financial history and competence of an applicant for a license.

The Director may publish information identifying those who have been found to have contravened the Act.

An individual who contravenes the Act may be fined up to $50,000, imprisonment of up to one year, or both.

A corporation that contravenes the Act may be fined up to $100,000.

If you are an employer of temporary foreign workers, or a recruiter of such workers, or if you are a temporary foreign worker who is concerned about your employer or a recruiter, it would be a good idea to become familiar with this Bill.

The content of this article is intended to provide very general thoughts and general information, not to provide legal advice. Advice from an experienced legal professional should be sought about your specific circumstances. If you would like to reach us, we may be reached at 250-764-7710 or info@inspirelaw.ca. Check out our website, www.inspirelaw.ca.

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