Compliance inspections for Employers of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program during the COVID-19 pandemic
On this page
- New regulations in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations
- New timelines
- Initiating an inspection
- During an inspection
- Responding to Service Canada investigators
- Discovery of illness or non-compliance
- Penalties for non-compliance
New regulations in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations
New regulations were introduced to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) to Parliament on April 11, 2020, and came into force on April 20, 2020. For employers, this means they have a specific responsibility in helping to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19.
Service Canada has the authority under the IRPR to conduct an inspection, with or without prior notice, in order to verify your compliance with the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program, including within the first 14 days of the temporary foreign worker’s arrival.
In addition to these changes, it remains the employer’s responsibility to ensure they are complying with the conditions attached to their Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and the IRPR.
Given the seriousness and urgency of the COVID-19 epidemic, the service standards have been revised to ensure these new regulation amendments are applied to the inspections related to COVID-19 requirements:
- Reduced time the employers have to provide documents to investigators from 30 days to 48 hours, and the time they have to provide justification should they fail to provide proper documents/information from 15 days to 48 hours
- Reduced time the employers have to respond to a Notice of Preliminary Finding (NOPF) from 30 days to 5 days
All Service Canada employer inspections during the COVID-19 pandemic will be conducted virtually/remotely. When requested, information must be submitted electronically which will help employers meet these tight timelines.
Initiating an inspection
An inspection may be initiated using one of the following methods:
- random selection of employers receiving workers during the COVID-19 pandemic
- in response to a tip or allegation received through our 1-800 tip line or on-line portal reporting any suspected non-compliance or in response to information received, including the possible spread of COVID-19, from other federal/provincial government departments or external stakeholders, including Consulates.
All employers must:
- inform Service Canada when employee (s) arrive at work location by sending an email message to: ESDC.ISB.QUARANTINE-QUARANTAINE.DGSI.EDSC@servicecanada.gc.ca. The email message must include:
- subject: TFW arrival to (name of Business)
- body: Date and time of arrival of employee(s) to your work location, and their names
- contact information for the TFW(s), if available
- your contact information including mailing address. If applicable, please include a secondary contact information
- be informed of the following responsibilities:
- during the worker’s initial 14-day quarantine or isolation period, the employer must ensure that:
- they do not do anything to prevent the worker’s compliance with orders or regulations under the Quarantine Act/Emergencies Act
- workers are paid wages, at least 30 hours per week, based on the hourly wage indicated on their LMIA/offer of employment, starting on the day they arrive
If the employer provides accommodations, they must also ensure that:
- workers are isolated separately from other workers who are not isolating or under quarantine
- accommodation for workers in quarantine at the same time, must enable the workers to remain at least 2 metres away from others
- cleaning products for the purpose of cleaning and disinfecting the accommodations regularly are provided to workers who are in isolation or quarantine and
- workers are able to comply with provincial / territorial public health orders under the Quarantine Act/Emergencies Act
At any time, throughout the period of employment, the employer must ensure that:
- private accommodations, for example bedroom and bathroom, is provided to a worker who develops any signs of symptoms of COVID-19 and
- they do not do anything to prevent the worker’s compliance with a provincial/territorial law that regulates public health response to COVID-19.
During an inspection
All Service Canada employer inspections during the COVID-19 pandemic will be conducted virtually/remotely.
Employers will be contacted by phone and email once they are selected for an inspection. They must co-operate with requests by investigators in a timely manner. This includes providing all relevant documents for examination electronically. Failure to do so may result in penalties.
Employers will be asked to provide one or more of the following:
- proof of wages paid (for example, pay stubs)
- photos of accommodations respecting social distancing space if more than one worker is in quarantine at the same time (such as, sleeping quarters with beds 2 metres apart using tape measure, dining areas with chairs 2 metres apart using tape measure, and kitchen and washroom facilities)
- photos of private isolation space if it is deemed necessary for the worker to be in separate accommodations and
- proof of adequate supply of sanitation products for the worker to use (paper towels, household cleaning and disinfecting products, dish soap, laundry soap, sanitizers, etc.)
Employers may also be asked for a virtual tour of the accommodations and/or facilities.
Some workers will also be contacted to verify these requirements. These interviews may be conducted by phone or video conference.
Any information containing personal information, such as Social Insurance Numbers, banking information, or medical information, must be redacted, prior to sending to the Investigator. This does not include names or contact information.
Responding to Service Canada investigators
Employers must send the requested information to the Service Canada Investigator within 48 hours. Failure to do so can result in a non-compliance penalty.
The documents can be sent electronically using one of the following 2 methods:
- respond directly to the Service Canada Investigator by email, and attach the requested documents, photos, etc.
- upload requested documents using their LMIA Online account. Once uploaded, and to ensure documents are received in a timely manner, the employer must inform the Investigator by responding directly to the Investigator’s email address.
Find more information about how to set up an LMIA Online account.
Discovery of illness or non-compliance
During an investigation, if an illness related to COVID-19 is detected, Service Canada Investigators will immediately report this information to local public health officials who will take action as necessary.
Service Canada will continue its investigation and impose sanctions should the employer be found to be non-compliant of the elements outlined in the regulations.
Penalties for non-compliance
Changes have also been made to existing administrative monetary penalties framework, to reflect the seriousness with which Government takes disregard of requirements of orders made under the Quarantine Act and/or the Emergencies Act.
Employers found non-compliant as a result of an inspection, could be subject to:
- administrative monetary penalties ranging from $1,000 to $100,000 per violation, up to a maximum of $1 million over 1 year;
- a ban of 1, 2, 5 or 10 years, or permanent bans from the program for the most serious violations
- publication of their business name and address on a public website with details of the violation(s) and/or consequence(s), and/or
- revocation of previously issued LMIAs.
All Notices of Preliminary Findings and Notices of Final Determinations will be sent to the employer by e-mail and registered mail.
Employers have the right to judicial review should they not agree with the final decision.
As the situation regarding COVID-19 continues to evolve, please consult TFW Program compliance regularly for the latest information.
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