Employer compliance inspections: COVID-19 program delivery

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

These instructions support the inspection process for the new COVID-19-related regulatory conditions for employers under the International Mobility Program.

These instructions must be consulted when employer compliance inspections are assessed against the conditions of section 209.2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) that relate to the Quarantine Act, the Emergency Act or the provincial laws that govern public health in response to COVID-19. These instructions should be reviewed in conjunction with the following program delivery instructions:

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New employer conditions

Employers under the International Mobility Program, unlike some employers under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, are not required to provide accommodations or incur additional costs related to COVID-19 other than to pay the wages beginning at the period of self-isolation or quarantine upon entry to Canada, as required by the Quarantine Act, regardless of whether the foreign worker is able to work or not.

Sick employee

In a situation where a foreign worker falls ill after the initial period of isolation or quarantine, and there is a subsequent period of isolation as per a provincial or territorial requirement, provisions of sick leave or other appropriate leave apply.

Employer inspections

In this section

Inspection triggers

Under the new paragraphs R209.5(d) and (e), an employer may be selected for inspection if either of the following conditions are met:

  1. IRCC or Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) is notified of an introduction or spread of a communicable disease, as defined in section 2 of the Quarantine Act, at any place or premises where the foreign worker performs work
  2. an employer employs a foreign worker who is or was subject to an order or regulation made under the Emergencies Act or the Quarantine Act

Selection for inspection

An employer can be selected for inspection if any of the conditions under section R209.5 are met at any time within 6 years of the work permit being issued, including the mandatory isolation or quarantine period. As per paragraph R209.2(1)(b), employers are required to

For the COVID-19 pandemic, a list of employers chosen for inspection will be generated by the Operations Planning and Performance Branch (OPPB), provided those employers have had a temporary worker who was required to quarantine or isolate under the Quarantine Act upon entry to Canada on or after April 20, 2020.

Employers cannot be found non-compliant with subparagraphs R209.2(1)(a)(v) to (vii) for actions taken before the coming into force of the new regulations (April 20, 2020). It is expected that the number of incoming temporary workers will be small. However, if further selection is required, it will be determined based on risk and processing capacity.

Desk inspections

During the COVID-19 pandemic situation, ESDC has determined that it will not conduct on-site inspections; however, a request to other authorities may be initiated in situations where IRCC has been notified of one or both of the following:

Case Management Branch (CMB) officers at IRCC will conduct desk inspections for compliance with the new COVID-19 conditions; however, if adverse information is found when inspecting these conditions, officers may extend the scope of the inspection to include any other condition under section R209.2.

Officers may contact employers by telephone and electronic correspondence to initiate the inspection or request any additional documentation required. Electronic correspondence may be used if prior consent was given for any documented correspondence, including for communicating final decisions and notices of preliminary finding.

Communicating to the employer

  1. Phone call: CMB officers should first call the employer to confirm their email address, obtain consent for communication to be via unsecure email, and inform them that an inspection will be launched.

    During the call, a password will be provided to the employer for use throughout the inspection process to open emailed letters, including

    • the inspection letter
    • justification request letter
    • notice of preliminary finding

    The inspection is considered initiated once the employer provides verbal consent to communicate via unsecure email and no undeliverable message is received.

  2. Email: Following the phone call, an inspection letter should be sent via email and include

    • the reason for the inspection, including the inspection trigger and program conditions being inspected
    • a request for documentation and information that will provide proof of compliance
    • a deadline for submission of the documentation and information
    • a request for a confirmation of receipt

The employer has 48 hours to provide submissions and requested documentation. If no confirmation is received within 24 hours, then officers can follow up with a telephone call and confirm receipt during the call. The email confirming receipt or a record of the telephone conversation should be retained.

If officers are still unable to reach the employer after the submission deadline, they may issue a notice of preliminary finding of employer non-compliance with any of the inspection conditions under section R209.4.

Inspection period

The new regulatory conditions came into force on April 20, 2020. As of that date, the period of employment covers any period of time that the worker is required to isolate or quarantine themselves on entry into Canada in accordance with an order made under the Quarantine Act.

To ensure public health under COVID-19, an inspection should be launched within the first 14 days of a temporary worker’s arrival in Canada and completed within 21 days.

The notice of preliminary finding for the new conditions is deemed received by the employer 5 days after having been sent, and the employer has 5 days to respond.

For more information, refer to Application of consequences where an employer is found non-compliant with the conditions.

Justification of non-compliance

Paragraph R203(1.1)(h) sets out a new justification that may apply if an employer has not complied with the conditions set out in any of the subparagraphs R209.2(1)(a)(v) to (vi). This justification allows for an error in interpretation made in good faith by the employer, for example, they misunderstood the Quarantine Act requirements. Note that existing subsection R203(1.1) justifications may also be applicable.

Provincial and territorial health authorities and orders

This list provides provincial and territorial resources for health authorities and orders. These links will be updated as required.

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