AGRI - Regulations to Ensure Compliance with the Quarantine Act - May 22, 2020
Regulations were needed to make sure that foreign nationals allowed to enter Canada temporarily, as well as employers of temporary foreign workers, adhere to measures that are aimed at protecting their health and the health of Canadians.
Anyone authorized to enter Canada temporarily and who fails to follow an isolation or quarantine order could be found inadmissible, issued a removal order, and barred from returning for one year.
Employers have a responsibility to the health of their workers as well as to public health. Employer associations continue to work collaboratively with the Government to figure out how they can help fulfil both.
Failing to comply with the new employer compliance conditions could result in a range of penalties, including monetary penalties of up to $1M and bans from hiring temporary foreign workers.
Employers who are responsible for housing workers, like some agricultural employers, are now required to provide accommodations that allow workers to follow Quarantine Act or Emergencies Act orders, including an order to quarantine or isolate themselves and/or to practice social distancing.
The Government is supporting employers to help defray costs of this obligation.
Given the critical importance of protecting public health, these amendments include the ability to conduct inspections regarding COVID-19 early, quickly, and make final determinations faster. Inspections are initiated proactively, but also reactively, such as through tips, or reports of confirmed cases of COVID-19 at a worksite.
Supporting facts and figures
Approximately 500 inspections of employers have been launched, the majority by Employment and Social Development Canada, since the regulations came into force on April 20, 2020. To date, there have been no findings of noncompliance.
The federal compliance regimes for employers of foreign nationals apply only to employers of employer-specific work permit holders. This covers the entire Temporary Foreign Worker Program (Employment and Social Development Canada lead) and approximately 30% of the International Mobility Program (IRCC lead).
In the context of the public health orders concerning mandatory quarantine and isolation, and with a view to managing the health and safety of workers and Canadians alike, the regulations provide additional compliance tools to ensure employers of foreign nationals with employer-specific work permits support their employees during their quarantine or isolation period.
Specifically, employers are now required to not do anything that prevents the temporary foreign worker from complying with an order to quarantine or isolate themselves. They are also required to pay wages during the mandatory quarantine or isolation period upon entry to Canada
The new regulatory requirements related to housing apply to a large portion of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, that is, employers who hire under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program. Employment and Social Development Canada and Service Canada are responsible for inspections of these employers, for example on farms and greenhouses, and have already begun inspections. Employment and Social Development Canada officials are best positioned to respond to questions regarding enforcement on farms and recently reported outbreaks.
IRCC-administered International Mobility Program inspections are desk-based. IRCC analysts request documentation electronically to verify compliance, which is complemented by phone interviews with employers, and separate calls with workers, when applicable. Once an inspection is initiated, IRCC aims to finalize most inspections (80%) within the shortened timeframe of 21 calendar days. Shortened timeframes also reflect reduced time periods for employers to address preliminary findings of non-compliance.
IRCC’s focus for such inspections is on the new conditions aimed at promoting compliance with quarantine and self-isolation in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
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