Temporary foreign workers: Your rights are protected
In Canada, the rights of all workers are protected by law. It is important that you understand your rights while you are in Canada as a temporary foreign worker.
Here are a few things you need to know:
Your employer must:
- pay you for your work;
- ensure that your workplace is safe;
- give you break time and days off; and
- respect the terms of your written contract.
Your employer cannot:
- force you to perform duties that you were not hired or trained to do;
- force you to work if you are sick or injured;
- take your passport or work permit away from you;
- have you deported from Canada or change your immigration status; or
- make you pay them back for fees they paid to hire you.
Other laws that protect workers can be different depending on where you work in Canada. If you have questions about the laws that apply to you, please contact the employment standards office in the province or territory where you are working.
If you are a victim
Unfortunately sometimes people who come to Canada from other countries as temporary workers are illegally exploited by their employers through forced labour or sexual exploitation. In Canada, this is called “trafficking in persons” or human trafficking. Victims of human trafficking are controlled by their employers and made to provide their labour or sexual services through intimidation, force, sexual assault and threats of violence to themselves, their families or friends. It is a crime to exploit workers and the Government of Canada can help protect you if you think you might be a victim.
You might be a victim of human trafficking if you answer “yes” to any of these questions:
- Are you prevented from leaving your work location or your accommodation on your own?
- Has someone taken your passport or work permit away from you?
- Have you been physically, sexually or psychologically abused by your employer or someone connected to your employer?
- Has your employer or someone representing your employer threatened you or your family?
- Do you fear something bad will happen to you or to a family member if you leave your job?
- Are you living in a group at your workplace, with poor living conditions (for example, you have no private space, you sleep in shared space or in inappropriate conditions)?
- Did you pay high recruitment fees to come to work in Canada?
- Do you feel that you owe money to your employer for bringing you to Canada?
- Has your employer or someone representing your employer asked for a portion of your paycheque back in cash?
Some of the ways that human traffickers control their victims:
- Making promises about employment, travel, living conditions or treatment;
- Promising to provide immigration and travel documents;
- Making offers that sound too good to be true;
- Threatening to harm the worker or the worker’s family;
- Involving workers in criminal activities;
- Moving workers from workplace to workplace against their will or forcing them into prostitution;
- Coaching workers on how to mislead authorities.
Protection and help for victims of human trafficking
If you think that you are a victim of human trafficking, or you suspect or know of human trafficking activity, call 9-1-1 or your local police. To anonymously report a case of trafficking, call Crime Stoppers National Tipline at 1-800-222-TIPS(8477).
The Government of Canada can help you if you are a victim of human trafficking by giving you a special temporary resident permit. This will allow you to receive health care and to apply for an open work permit. You will not need to testify against your trafficker or pay a fee to receive this help. You can contact the closest Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) office or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). To find the closest IRCC office, call IRCC toll-free at 1-888-242-2100 (from within Canada only). If you visit an office in person, IRCC can assess your application faster. To find the closest RCMP detachment for human trafficking, call the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Human Trafficking National Coordination Centre toll-free at 1-855-850-4640.