October 27, 2020 From: Employment and Social Development Canada
Temporary foreign workers (TFWs) play a vital role in supporting food security in key sectors critical to the Canadian economy. These include agriculture, agri-food, fish and seafood processing.
Certain employers participating in the program’s Primary Agriculture Stream are currently required to provide accommodations to workers. Employers have to demonstrate in their Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) application that dwellings for foreign workers have been inspected and comply with their local applicable standards. These housing standards and related inspections prior to the arrival of workers are under the responsibility of provinces and territories. In some cases, this responsibility is delegated to municipalities or private inspectors.
The Government of Canada has begun consultations with provinces and territories, employers, workers and other interested parties on a proposal to establish minimum requirements for employer-provided accommodations for the TFW Program.
The new requirements would complement existing provincial or territorial housing standards and create consistency for all employers who provide accommodations to foreign workers. Strengthened oversight for pre- and post-arrival inspections of worker accommodations is also proposed. The goal is to develop a gradual and lasting approach to improve living conditions for workers.
These consultations will seek feedback in two main areas:
- Proposed federal accommodation requirements for the TFW Program
- Potential approaches to strengthening oversight of worker accommodations
1. Federal accommodation requirements for the TFW Program
The objective of the new accommodation requirements is to improve living conditions. They focus on a number of key factors, including:
- reduced potential for overcrowding in order to ensure:
- adequate personal space and privacy; and
- greater adaptability to public health measures to prevent the outbreak of communicable diseases.
- ensuring appropriate ratios of amenities;
- ensuring appropriate heating, cooling and air quality; and
- enabling access to phone and internet, where available.
2. Strengthening the inspections process for TFW accommodations
The TFW Program will be engaging with provinces and territories on approaches to improve oversight of foreign workers accommodations both before and after workers’ arrival. Possible measures for consideration include developing a list of authorized inspectors that employers must use to conduct accommodations inspections and requiring that housing inspection reports include new elements of proof, such as photographs and geo-location information in order to support any necessary future inspections.