British Columbia

B.C. establishing new licensing requirements for job recruiters to protect foreign workers

In an effort to better protect foreign workers, the B.C government is bringing in new licensing requirements for job recruiters.

'Every day we see cases of foreign workers experiencing exploitation or abuse'

Temporary foreign workers harvesting in a B.C. field August 11, 2017. (B.C. Federation of Labour/Facebook)

In an effort to better protect foreign workers, the B.C government is bringing in new licensing requirements for job recruiters.

The Ministry of Labour says the requirements are aimed at holding abusive recruiters accountable.

"Workers coming to a new country must be confident that their rights are protected," said Harry Bains, B.C.'s labour minister.

"They often arrive feeling isolated and alone, uncertain of their rights and unsure where to find help and support when they think their rights are violated," he said.

Oct.1 deadline

Recruiters have until Oct. 1, 2019, to get licensed. Those who don't comply face fines up to $50,000 or a year in prison, or both. 

"Every day we see cases of foreign workers experiencing exploitation or abuse, such as recruiters taking possession of passports and charging illegal fees," said Natalie Drolet, the executive director of the Migrant Workers Centre.

"Registering recruiters is important to stopping these practices," she said.

Information about recruiters will be made available online, allowing prospective workers to see which recruiters are licensed and in good standing, and which are not.

In 2017, the federal government issued close to 48,000 work permits for foreign nationals destined for B.C., with 16,865 issued under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

The legislation is the first phase of B.C.'s Temporary Foreign Worker Protection Act. The second phase will involve new registration requirements for those hiring temporary foreign workers.

B.C. joins Manitoba and Saskatchewan with similar licensing programs.

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