International Mobility Program – Get to know your rights while working in Canada
In Canada, the rights of all workers—including temporary foreign workers—are protected by law. If you are a temporary foreign worker, you have the same rights and workplace protections as Canadians and permanent residents.
Your employer must
- give you information about your rights
- give you a signed copy of your employment agreement before you apply for your work permit
- pay you for your work as stated in your employment agreement (including overtime work if it’s included in your agreement)
- provide you with a workplace free of abuse, such as reprisals
- follow the employment and recruitment standards of the province or territory where you work
- help you access health care services if you are hurt or become sick at work
Your employer can’t
- force you to do unsafe work or work that’s not in your employment agreement
- force you to work if you are sick or hurt
- force you to work overtime if it’s not in your employment agreement
- punish you for reporting mistreatment or unsafe work, or for cooperating with an inspection by the government
- take your passport or work permit away from you
- deport you from Canada or change your immigration status
- make you pay back recruitment fees they may have paid to hire you
Your employment agreement
Before you apply for a work permit, your employer must give you a copy of your employment agreement. It must be in English or French - your chosen official language while in Canada. Both you and your employer must sign this agreement. The employment agreement must refer to the same occupation, wages and working conditions as your job offer.
Access to health care services
You do not need your employer’s permission to seek health care.
If you are hurt or are sick at work
Tell your supervisor as soon as possible, and get medical attention. Your employer must allow you access to a health care provider (like a doctor, nurse or pharmacist) by, for example:
- giving you time off to seek medical attention
- making a phone available to call emergency services (such as an ambulance)
- giving you information on how to get health care
- helping you get to the health care provider
Your employer does not have to pay for you to get to a hospital, clinic, doctor or other health care service.
You can speak privately with a health care provider, without your employer.
Health and safety at work
Your employer can’t force you to do work that is dangerous. They can’t refuse to pay you for your work. Your employer must look into any danger that is reported at work. You have the right to refuse to do the work until you and your employer agree that:
- the danger is removed
- you received the proper equipment and training
- the problem no longer exists
Your employer must:
- follow employment laws, and health and safety laws
- train you to do your job safely, including on how to safely operate any equipment or machinery
- give you equipment and training if your job requires you to use chemical products
Most provinces and territories offer workers’ compensation benefits (payments to make up for lost wages) when workers are injured or sick because of their work.
- Your employer can’t stop you from making a workers’ compensation claim.
- Contact your local employment or labour standards office to learn more about workers’ compensation benefits (see contacts below).
Workplace free of abuse
Employers must provide a workplace that is free of abuse. Your employer or anyone acting on behalf of your employer can’t abuse you physically, sexually, psychologically or financially, or make reprisals.
Any behaviour that scares, controls or isolates you could be abuse.
Some examples of abuse:
- physical harm
- threats or insults
- forcing you to work in a way that’s unsafe or risky to your health
- unwanted sexual touching
- controlling where you can go or who you can see
- stealing from you
- taking any or all of the money you are owed
- taking and refusing to return your passport, work permit or other identification
- forcing you to commit fraud
- firing or threatening you for reporting your working conditions, reporting abuse or cooperating with an inspection by the government
To report an abusive situation, contact Service Canada’s confidential tip line at 1-866-602-9448. If you need help right away, call 9-1-1 or your local police.
If you think you’re being abused or at risk of being abused, you may be able to apply for an open work permit for vulnerable workers to help you leave an abusive work situation.
If you lose your job
If you lose your job, you may qualify to receive employment insurance benefits.
You are allowed to change employers. However, your work permit may only allow you to work for your current employer, so you may need to apply for a new work permit before you can start working for a different employer. Your new employer may have to apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment or submit a job offer through the Employer Portal.
You can use the Government of Canada’s Job Bank to search for jobs with Canadian employers who want to hire temporary foreign workers.
How to get help
If your employer is breaking the rules of the International Mobility Program, or is abusing you or someone you know, you should report it.
Calling Service Canada’s tip line: 1-866-602-9448
- This service is confidential. Service Canada will not tell your employer you called.
- You can talk to a Service Canada agent in 1 of more than 200 languages.
- You can leave an anonymous message to report your concerns. All calls are taken seriously and may be investigated.
You can also report abuse to Service Canada using this online form.
Changing jobs due to abuse or risk of abuse
If you think you are being abused or at risk of being abused, you may be eligible to apply for an open work permit for vulnerable workers. An open work permit lets you change jobs by giving you permission to work for almost any employer in Canada. More information is available for vulnerable foreign workers who are victims of abuse.
Getting assistance from a support organization for migrant workersFootnote 1
- British Columbia
- The Community Airport Newcomers Network welcomes temporary foreign workers at Vancouver International Airport, offering information and orientation sessions (604-270-0077).
- MOSAIC offers services to temporary foreign workers (604-254-9626).
- Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba
- The Calgary Catholic Immigration Society offers services to temporary foreign workers through their TFW Hub (1-888-331-1110) and their Community Support Services program (403-262-2006).
- Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island
- Kairos offers a variety of services to migrant workers and can connect you with support organizations near you.
- Immigrant Québec has a website for temporary foreign workers. A list of support organizations is included under the tab “Who can help?”
Reporting a workplace health or safety problem
Have you been asked to perform dangerous work? Are conditions at work unsafe? Have you been injured or sick because of your work? If so, contact your provincial or territorial workplace health and safety office:
- Alberta: 1-866-415-8690
- British Columbia: 1-888-621-7233
- Manitoba: 1-855-957-7233
- New Brunswick: 1-800-222-9775
- Newfoundland and Labrador: 1-800-563-5471
- Northwest Territories: 1-800-661-0792
- Nova Scotia: 1-800-952-2687
- Nunavut: 1-877-404-4407
- Ontario: 1-877-202-0008
- Prince Edward Island: 1-800-237-5049
- Quebec: 1-844-838-0808
- Saskatchewan: 1-800-567-7233
- Yukon: 1-800-661-0443
Reporting other employment problems
Employees working in a federally regulated sector
Most industries in Canada are regulated by provincial or territorial governments, but some are regulated by the federal government. If your workplace is federally regulated, you can make a complaint online or by calling 1‑800‑641‑4049.List of federally regulated industries and workplaces
If you think you’re not being properly paid or you’re being treated unfairly, or if your employer is not respecting your employment agreement, contact your provincial or territorial employment standards office:
- Alberta: 1-877-427-3731
- British Columbia: 1-833-236-3700
- Manitoba: 1-800-821-4307
- New Brunswick: 1-888-452-2687
- Newfoundland and Labrador: 1-800-563-5471
- Northwest Territories: 1-888-700-5707
- Nova Scotia: 1-888-315-0110
- Nunavut: 1-877-806-8402
- Ontario: 1-800-531-5551
- Prince Edward Island: 1-800-333-4362
- Quebec: 1-800-265-1414
- Saskatchewan: 1-800-667-1783
- Yukon: 1-800-661-0408, ext. 5944
Protection and help for victims of human trafficking
If you think you are a victim of human trafficking, or if you suspect or know of human trafficking activity, call
- the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-833-900-1010 to be connected with support services or law enforcement in your community
- Service Canada’s confidential tip line at 1-866-602-9448
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