Quarantine and mandatory testing information for temporary foreign workers
On this page
- Getting tested to enter Canada
- Documentation required prior to departure
- Arriving in Canada
- Getting your Day-10 test
- Health requirements and general guidance
- Compliance and inspections
Getting tested to enter Canada
Do temporary foreign workers require a negative COVID-19 test before coming to Canada?
- Yes. All travellers 5 years of age or older, regardless of citizenship, must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result in order to enter Canada
- At this time, proof of having a vaccine does not replace a valid test result.
- The worker must:
- take the test within 72 hours of the scheduled departure time of their flight to Canada
- if they have a connecting flight:
- the test must be conducted within 72 hours of the scheduled departure time of their last direct flight to Canada
- the worker may need to schedule the test in their transit city
- if they have a connecting flight:
- take the test within 72 hours of the scheduled departure time of their flight to Canada
- provide one of the accepted types of tests, not an antigen test
- keep proof of their test results for the 14-day period that begins on the day they enter Canada
- The worker must:
- Airlines will refuse boarding to travellers who are unable to provide a valid molecular test result
If a temporary foreign worker has a negative pre-arrival test result, is the 14-day quarantine still required?
- Yes. Temporary foreign workers are still required to quarantine for 14 days on arrival, even if they have received a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours prior to departure
Who pays for costs associated with temporary foreign workers entering the country?
- Meeting entry requirements, including the cost of pre-departure testing, is the responsibility of the source country, employer, and/or the temporary foreign worker
- At this time, the Government of Canada will provide the COVID-19 tests upon arrival at no cost to the traveller
Documentation required prior to departure
What documentation do temporary foreign workers need to bring with them when travelling to Canada?
- To enter Canada, temporary foreign workers need to have the following documentation/information with them:
- A valid work permit or a port of entry letter of introduction issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada that shows the worker has been approved for a work permit. This document shows that the worker is allowed to travel to Canada during the travel restrictions
- A valid passport (and visa if applicable)
- A receipt from ArriveCAN confirming information was submitted (screenshot, email or printout)
- Address of quarantine location (housing)
- Telephone number and email address so that Canadian officials can contact the worker
- Employer's contact information
Arriving in Canada
What is the scenario for temporary foreign workers arriving at the current main airports receiving international arrivals?
Current main airports receiving international arrivals:
- Montréal-Trudeau International Airport
- Toronto Pearson International Airport
- Calgary International Airport
- Vancouver International Airport
- International inbound passenger flights to Canada are currently being directed to one of four airports designated to receive international passenger traffic: Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver
- Temporary foreign workers are required to take a COVID-19 molecular test upon arrival while at the airport, and a second test later in their 14-day quarantine period.
- Before leaving the airport, workers will be provided with a COVID-19 test kit and instructions for taking their test later in the mandatory 14-day quarantine period
- Following the arrival test, workers will need to go to their reserved hotel to await test results. For information on who is exempt from this requirement, see Exemptions
- Travellers are still required to complete the remainder of the mandatory 14-day quarantine after their mandatory hotel stopover
What is being done for provinces that do not have one of the designated airports for international travellers?
- An agreement has been made between the federal and provincial governments to allow for an Alternative Testing Protocol (ATP) for airports not designated to receive international charters
- In order for a province to be permitted to have international charters land in a non-designated airport, they must first submit a letter signed by the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, confirming their interest in pursuing an ATP.
- In the letter, the province must confirm and agree to the following:
- That they are able to administer day 1 and day 10 tests. This includes sharing test results with the Public Health Agency of Canada and sending positive samples to the National Microbiology Laboratory for sequencing (process to allow for data sharing currently underway)
- That they are able to isolate symptomatic workers awaiting the results of tests, and that they can isolate workers who test positive in a suitable isolation location
- That they will ensure that private transport to the quarantine location meets public health requirements including appropriate infection prevention and control measures
Does this mean that temporary foreign workers can land in any airport provided the province is able to request alternate testing protocols?
- No, not all airports have the capacity or infrastructure to perform testing, safely social distance, or sufficiently isolate workers
Which provinces have expressed an interest in in pursuing alternate testing protocols?
- Currently, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Manitoba have signed ATPs
Who pays for any costs associated with temporary foreign workers 3-day hotel stay, travel to their place of employment and quarantine period?
- The Government intends to ensure employers and temporary foreign workers will not assume incremental costs associated with the 3-day quarantine requirement at the point of entry. Workers will also be provided with supports on arrival and during their hotel stay
- Employers will continue to facilitate private and infection-controlled transportation according to the existing requirements, which have not changed
- Additional costs that may be incurred by workers for additional domestic travel will also be covered by the employer. In the case of workers hired through the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program, this cost is shared with the worker based on pre-determined flight costs
Which temporary foreign workers are exempted from the 3-nights stay in a government approved hotel upon landing in Canada?
- Temporary foreign workers with work visas in agriculture, agri-food, fish and seafood sectors are exempted from a 3-night stay in a Government Authorized Accommodation (GAA) while awaiting the results of their COVID-19 test results. These workers may go directly to their place of quarantine instead of a 3-night stay in a GAA if they are asymptomatic, travelling by private transportation and are accompanied only by others who travelled with them to Canada. This includes workers in the following occupations:
- Primary agriculture:
- 0821 - Managers in agriculture
- 0822 - Managers in horticulture
- 8252 - Agricultural service contractors, farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
- 8255 - Contractors and supervisors, landscaping, grounds maintenance and horticulture services
- 8431 - General farm workers
- 8432 - Nursery and greenhouse workers
- 8611 - Harvesting labourers
- Other agri-food occupations:
- 6331 - Butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers - retail And wholesale
- 9461 - Process control and machine operators, food, beverage and associated products processing
- 9462 - Industrial butchers and meat cutters, poultry preparers and related workers
- 9463 - Fish and seafood plant workers
- 9617 - Labourers in food, beverage and associated products processing
- 9618 - Labourers In fish and seafood processing
- Employers will continue to facilitate safe transportation for workers to arrive at their place of quarantine where they will await their day-1 result in accordance with public health requirements
- Temporary foreign workers who need to travel by public means of transportation to a secondary location, for example, another province, upon arrival in Canada will be required to stay in a GAA for up to 3 nights while awaiting the results of their COVID-19 test taken on arrival
- Through new funding agreements provided by the Government, migrant worker support organizations will be available to support workers through the arrival process and throughout their stay. This includes providing logistical support to temporary foreign workers through the COVID-19 test on arrival; directing them to their transportation organized by the employer, and supporting those who need to quarantine for 3 days on arrival
Why only these occupations?
- These sectors were identified as they have a direct impact on ensuring Canada’s food supply chain and food security
What is considered private conveyance/transportation for TFWs?
- Private transportation would include transportation via a private vehicle or chartered bus or plane. TFWs travelling onward by private transportation are permitted to travel with other TFWs they arrived in Canada with, including on subsequent charter flights within Canada directly following their flight into Canada, provided that they observe all public health guidelines for onward travel.
Are any temporary foreign workers exempt from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada’s mandatory quarantine requirements for all travellers coming into Canada?
- Pursuant to an Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act, most temporary foreign workers must quarantine for 14 days upon initial arrival to Canada
- There are, however, exemptions from the quarantine requirements for some groups, provided they have no COVID-19 symptoms. These include people who are deemed by the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada to provide an essential service because they:
- are making necessary medical deliveries of cells, blood and blood products, tissues, organs, or other similar lifesaving human body parts, as required for patient care
- work in the trade and transportation sector who are important for the movement of goods and people, including truck drivers, crew on any plane, train or marine vessel, and that cross the border while performing their duties, or for the purpose of performing their duties
- Please note that in this case, the foreign worker would still need to quarantine for 14 days upon initial entry into Canada, but may be exempt from the requirement during any re-entry into the country that corresponds with their work duties
- cross the border regularly to go to work, including in the healthcare sector or critical infrastructure workers for the purpose of performing their duties; or
- have to cross the border to provide or receive essential services, including emergency responders and personnel providing essential services to Canadians related to the COVID-19 outbreak
- Upon each arrival at Canadian ports of entry, travellers are required to follow the instructions of a government of Canada representative designated to administer the Emergency Orders under the Quarantine Act. Government of Canada representatives will:
- administer the Emergency Orders for COVID-19 on behalf of the Public Health Agency of Canada
- determine if an individual's travel purpose for travelling to Canada falls within the definition of the exemptions of the Emergency Orders
- assess travellers for potential risks to public health, in accordance with their designation under the Quarantine Act
- Individuals exempt from quarantine requirements must follow the latest public health requirements including wearing a non-medical mask and physical distancing
What are the designations on essential services by provinces and Public Safety Canada?
- Public Safety Canada has developed a set of functions deemed essential in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic to help provinces/territories, Indigenous communities, and municipalities protect their communities while maintaining the reliable operation of critical infrastructure services and functions to ensure the health, safety, and economic well-being of the population
- In addition, many provinces/territories have communicated essential services within their jurisdictions
- These determinations do not constitute exemptions from the requirement to quarantine
Getting your Day-10 test
How will the test on day 10 of quarantine be administered?
- Before leaving the airport, travellers will be provided with a COVID-19 At Home Specimen Collection kit (test kit) with instructions for taking their test at day 10 during their mandatory 14-day quarantine period
- The Government of Canada has introduced new supports for employers of temporary foreign workers in the agriculture, agri-food, fish and seafood sectors to support the facilitation of the day-10 COVID 19 test
- A new dedicated call centre and email channel for employers of temporary foreign workers in these sectors has been introduced by the organization managing the day-10 COVID 19 tests across Canada – Switch Health
- Switch Health can assist directly in the facilitation of the day-10 COVID 19 test for temporary foreign workers in a safe and secure manner
- By contacting Switch Health directly at 1-888-511-4501 or emailing email@example.com employers will be prompted to provide specific information about their organization so that the day-10 COVID 19 test can be administered in a manner that best supports the organization and their workers
- The following information is important:
- When swabs are sent to Switch Health, they must be labelled according to the instructions in the test kit
- Each worker must write their name on the label provided and place it on the test tube, being careful not to cover the serial number
- Employers must also use these new channels to contact Switch Health directly if there are any concerns about outstanding day-10 COVID 19 tests for temporary foreign workers. Temporary foreign workers cannot leave their place of quarantine until they have:
- completed their full 14-day quarantine, and
- received a negative test result from their Day 10 test
Is the employer required to pay the worker during the quarantine period? Are workers eligible for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) during the initial quarantine period?
- Temporary foreign workers are not eligible to receive the CRSB for the initial quarantine period upon arrival to Canada. The employer of the temporary foreign worker who is required to isolate or quarantine themselves for a period on entry into Canada, must provide the worker with wages during the initial quarantine/ isolation period for a minimum of 30 hours per week (minimum 5 hour per working day over 6 days) at the hourly rate of pay specified in the Labour Market Impact Assessment and/or offer of employment. This is also consistent with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program’s genuineness policy, which indicates that reasonable employment needs are a full time workload (such as, a minimum of 30 hours per week)
- The initial quarantine period applies each time a temporary foreign worker enters Canada, even if they are returning to their employment, such as after a vacation or absence outside of the country. Therefore, the employer must pay wages to the worker for that period, and the worker should not apply for the CRSB
- If the quarantine/isolation period is extended for any reason the workers must continue being paid accordingly by the employer (for a minimum of 5 hours per day or 30 hours per week).
- Should a worker become ill at any time following the initial quarantine period, they may be eligible for other government sickness benefits, such as the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit or EI Sickness Benefits
What is the employer’s role in ensuring the worker has access to food and medicine during the quarantine period?
- Employers must not prevent or inhibit workers from meeting their obligations under the Quarantine Act in any way
- Quarantine obligations require that workers go directly to their place of residence upon arrival in Canada, which includes not stopping to purchase food or any supplies. Workers are also not allowed to go to stores during the quarantine period. Further, some workers may not have access to food delivery, due to the location of their accommodations, access to internet, credit card, etc.
- Therefore, many workers coming into Canada will require assistance in arranging for food, medicine, and/or basic supplies. Employers are expected to facilitate this as required but are not expected to pay for it. The employer must not deny assistance, if the foreign worker needs the assistance of the employer to access the necessities of life. This includes when the lack of such assistance would result in the worker needing to leave quarantine to obtain food and other basic survival items
- Costs for food, medication, basic supplies, or other necessities could be paid by the worker upon delivery, or through a payment plan. Any plan to cover costs should be mutually agreed upon between the employee and employer, ideally in writing. For workers under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) typical employment contracts provisions remain in place which allow for workers to elect to cook their own meals or arrange for the employer to provide meals at the worker’s cost
- Employers are expected to ensure that the foreign workers have access to the essentials without inflated prices or surcharges. Food provided should be fresh, of good quality and responsive to the workers’ requests
- Preventing workers from accessing food or other basic necessities could be considered preventing or inhibiting workers from meeting their obligations under the Quarantine Act and employers found non-compliant could face penalties of up to $1M and a permanent ban from the Temporary Foreign Worker Program
Health requirements and general guidance
What are temporary foreign workers’ responsibilities to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
- Temporary foreign workers are responsible for following all public health measures issued by government authorities within Canada. The latest information, including contact information for local health authorities, is available on the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 webpage
- During the quarantine period, this includes remaining in their place of residence and keeping a minimum of 2 metres away from other people. After the mandatory quarantine period, workers should continue to practice physical distancing. Consider the use of a mask or face covering when they cannot maintain physical distancing of 2 metres from others
- Workers should also:
- self-monitor for symptoms
- stay in their place of residence as much as possible when not working
- and follow the instructions of their local public health authority if they feel sick
- Workers must notify key people if:
- they develop, at any time, symptoms such as cough, fever, or difficulty breathing
or they believe they are exposed to someone who was sick with COVID-19. This includes:
- airline staff and border agents if travelling
- their employer
- their roommates
- public health authorities if at their place of residence or workplace
For employers required to provide housing, do the physical distancing requirements apply only during the quarantine period, or for the worker’s entire period of employment?
- The employers are required to provide housing which ensures that workers remain 2 metres apart applies specifically during the mandatory quarantine period
- If a new person enters in the same accommodations where other workers have already begun quarantining, all of the workers will be required to re-start their mandatory quarantine period. The employer is required to pay the workers for the full duration of this extended quarantine period
- Workers are recommended to continue to practice social distancing and good hygiene habits beyond the two-week period, in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Employer-provided housing that enables this would support public health objectives
What guidance will be given to employers?
- Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) is engaging with provincial governments to help ensure that employers have robust plans to safely quarantine and isolate workers before their arrival
- In addition to engagement with the provinces, ESDC is increasing its outreach and education efforts to employers on quarantine requirements and on best practices based on latest public health guidance
- ESDC is also working to communicate guidelines to employers and third party travel arrangers so they can support workers’ compliance and use of best practices
Will workers receive health care coverage while they are in Canada, including for COVID-19 related issues?
- Temporary foreign workers should receive coverage equivalent to other residents of Canada. For workers in the low-wage and primary agriculture streams, including the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program, if provincial/territorial health care is not provided from the first day the worker arrives in Canada, equivalent private health insurance must be provided by the employer until the worker becomes eligible for the provincial/territorial plan
- In the current context, some private insurers may no longer cover COVID-19 related issues. Some provinces are waiving typical waiting periods for provincial coverage. The Government of Canada is continuing to assess the situation and will work with provinces and other partners to address gaps. In the meantime, existing employer obligations still apply
What happens if a worker becomes sick with COVID-19?
- If a worker becomes symptomatic at any time, the employer must immediately arrange for the worker to be fully isolated from others, and contact local public health officials
- If the worker becomes ill during the initial quarantine period, the worker is to be paid by the employer. If a worker must be in quarantine longer than the initial mandatory 14 day isolation period because the worker became symptomatic or was exposed to another person who exhibits symptoms, or for any other reason, the worker is to be paid by the employer for the extended quarantine period (a minimum of 5 hours per day or 30 hours per work week)
- If, after the initial quarantine period, the worker is sick or must self-isolate due to COVID-19, they may be entitled to either paid or unpaid sick leave, depending on their employment contract and the relevant federal, provincial or territorial employment standards. This could include new provisions in several jurisdictions for job-protected leave because of the COVID-19 pandemic
- Workers who are unable to work because they are sick or must self-isolate due to COVID-19 may be eligible for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB). If a worker is eligible for the CRSB, they can receive $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) for a 1-week period. If their situation continues past 1 week, they will need to apply again. They may apply up to a total of 4 weeks between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021
- Workers who are unable to work for medical reasons unrelated to COVID-19 may also be eligible for Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits. In both cases, temporary foreign workers are subject to the same eligibility criteria as Canadians and permanent residents
Under what circumstances can a worker leave their quarantine location during their quarantine period?
- The Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Quarantine, Isolation and Other Obligations) permits workers to leave quarantine for medical emergences or essential medical services or treatments. This includes if a worker is required to leave the quarantine location to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, as it could be considered an essential medical treatment that contributes to their safety as they work in Canada
What responsibilities does an employer have when a worker needs to leave their quarantine location during their quarantine period to receive a COVID-19 vaccination?
- The employer must ensure the following:
- There are no orders in place by any public health authorities, local, provincial or federal, that would prevent the worker(s) from leaving their place of quarantine
- Transportation to and from the location where the COVID-19 vaccination is being administered must be via a private vehicle. During transit to and from the location where the COVID-19 vaccination is being administered, infection prevention and control practices need apply, including masking and physical distancing
- Only those workers who arrived in Canada together and are in quarantine together are permitted in the same vehicle
- Workers must obtain medical documentation, such as a record of vaccination, to support their departure from quarantine for medical reasons
- Workers must immediately and directly return to their suitable place of quarantine after receiving their COVID-19 vaccination, and fully complete their quarantine period, including all testing required under the Quarantine, Isolation and Other Obligations Order. The worker must remain in quarantine until the end of the 14-day period that begins on the day they arrive in Canada and until they receive the results of the COVID-19 molecular test taken later in the quarantine period, and those results are negative
Compliance and inspections
What are the penalties to workers for not respecting quarantine requirements?
- With the exception of those deemed exempt by the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada temporary foreign workers entering Canada are subject to the requirements of the Quarantine Act, which includes mandatory quarantine. Penalties of up to $750,000 can be levied against a temporary foreign worker who violates this Order
- A person who causes a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another person while willfully or recklessly contravening the Quarantine Act or associated regulations could be liable for a fine of up to $1,000,000 or to imprisonment of up to three years, or to both
- Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, workers who are found to have failed to adhere to an isolation order could be found inadmissible, issued a removal order and barred from coming back to Canada for one year
How are deductions to be calculated for Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) workers during the quarantine period?
- During the quarantine period, a week consists 6 working days, with a minimum of 5 hours per day, and one day of rest, which is the model to be used to calculate deductions for the SAWP workers
What are you doing to enforce employer compliance with health and safety requirements? What are the penalties for employer non-compliance?
- Employers have an important role to play in helping to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19
Amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations came into force April 20, 2020 and compel employers of temporary foreign workers to meet additional requirements, including:
- Paying workers for the initial quarantine/isolation period upon entry into Canada
- Not preventing a worker from meeting their requirements under orders made under the Quarantine Act and/or the Emergencies Act, as well as provincial/territorial public health laws related to COVID-19, and
- Additional requirements for employers who provide accommodations to workers
- Employers are subject to inspection and those who do not comply with the requirements could be subject to penalties of up to $1 million and a ban from hiring foreign workers, depending on the seriousness of the situation and number of workers affected
What mechanisms are in place for reporting instances of non-compliance to government authorities?
- Individuals who observe suspected violations of the Quarantine Act on the part of anyone, including a quarantining worker, are asked to notify local law enforcement
- Individuals who observe a suspected contravention of the expectations of employers are asked to report through ESDC’s Online Fraud Reporting tool, a secure online process for submitting information that will be reviewed by program officers, and who will take action as appropriate
- Alternatively, individuals can call the toll-free Service Canada Confidential Tips Line at 1-866-602-9448. These tools can also be used to report other incidents of non-compliance with program rules and requirements
How are inspections conducted during COVID-19?
- ESDC has the authority to inspect any employer when the department is made aware of a potential danger or that the safety of workers is at risk, including during the mandatory quarantine period. Service Canada will conduct quarantine inspections virtually via phone and video, however on-site inspections remain an important integrity mechanism available to Service Canada agents, particularly if there are egregious concerns or where information provided virtually is deemed insufficient
- For a quarantine inspection, the investigator will contact the employer, by phone and email, and provide the pertinent details about the inspection and documents required. Once requested, documents must be provided to the investigator within 48 hours
- Employers may be asked for a virtual tour of the employee’s accommodations. Interviews with employers and workers will be conducted by phone or video-conference. Investigators should be informed prior to the interviews if interpretation services are required
- When providing photos of accommodations during quarantine, Service Canada does not advocate or expect employers to enter the space occupied by the workers in quarantine. Photos can be taken from outside the structure and by workers when photos inside the accommodations are required. Service Canada recommends that employers take photos of the accommodations before the arrival of the workers
- The photos should clearly show that the accommodations are meeting the regulatory requirements. For example, if bunkbeds are used during quarantine, the photo must show that the beds are two metres apart and that only one bunk is being used
How does an employer send the required information to an Investigator about the inspection?
- For a quarantine inspection, the investigator will contact the employer, by phone and email, and provide the pertinent details about the inspection and documents required. Once requested, these documents must be provided within 48 hours
- Employers can send required documents/information by responding directly to the Investigator at their Service Canada email
- There are consequences for non-compliance, including consequences for not submitting required documents within the required time, or not cooperating with the inspection.
- Employers who do not comply with requirements could be subject to penalties. These include fines of up to $1 million and a permanent ban from hiring foreign workers, depending on the seriousness of the situation and number of workers affected
- Employers are encouraged to stay informed about their obligations in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program
Can an employer prevent a worker from leaving their housing or worksite?
- Limiting a temporary foreign worker’s movement may be considered abuse under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations and a violation of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program’s conditions. Examples may include:
- Imposing policies or agreements - whether oral or written, coerced or mandated by the employer – that restrict a worker’s ability to leave their housing or work location (including situations where a worker may feel compelled to agree to and/or abide by a policy or request out of fear of reprisal)
- Physically confining a worker to their housing or worksite without a legal authority (such as government or court issued order)
- The Temporary Foreign Worker Program does not provide employers with the right to limit the free movement of workers, such as movement off the property where temporary foreign workers live and/or work. Like all workers, temporary foreign workers are free to run errands, access services, and enjoy their time off work when not in quarantine, self-isolating, or otherwise restricted from doing so as per government laws and orders, such as those relating to states of emergency or public health
- Government laws or orders may require employers to implement policies and practices that restrict a worker’s movement, such as within their housing or workplace. In these cases, employers will be required to provide proof to Service Canada that such a policy or practice adheres to laws or orders issued by a government authority. Employers are strongly encouraged to be transparent with their employees about government-imposed restrictions on and off the worksite and to share relevant records (such as public health orders)
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