Work permit: when you start working

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Understand the conditions on your permit

Read your work permit carefully. It sets out all the conditions for working in Canada. If you don’t meet those conditions, you could be asked to leave Canada.

You can also apply to change the conditions of your work permit or apply to extend the permit.

If you choose to study while you work

You may be eligible to study without a study permit while you work.

To be eligible, you must

Find out if you’re eligible for this measure.

Get a social insurance number

The social insurance number (SIN) is a 9-digit number that you will need to work in Canada and to access government programs and benefits. You should apply for a SIN as soon as possible after you arrive in Canada.

To apply for your SIN, contact the nearest Service Canada office.

Understand your rights as a foreign worker

Canada’s labour laws

As a temporary foreign worker, you are protected by Canada’s labour laws.

Your employer

  • must pay you for your work
  • must make sure that your workplace is safe
  • can’t take your passport or work permit away from you

Each province and territory has an employment or labour standards office that deals with labour and employment laws. They can talk to you about fair pay, hours of work, rest periods and working conditions, and provide other services as well.

You don’t need your employer’s permission to contact these offices or go to their websites. You also can’t be punished or deported for contacting them.

Most occupations are covered under provincial and territorial laws. However, federal labour and employment laws may apply if you work for

  • the federal government
  • a bank
  • a company that transports goods between provinces
  • a telecommunications company
  • most businesses owned and run by the federal government

Employment agreements

If you have an employer-specific work permit, your employer must give you an employment agreement. You and your employer must sign the agreement, which should include

  • the details of your job
  • the conditions of your employment
  • the highest number of hours you will work in a week
  • how much you will be paid for your work

The laws on hours of work and overtime (extra time or time worked after regular hours) depend on the province or territory you are working in.

Your agreement may also have details about any money coming out of your pay for programs like the Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance.

Always keep a copy of your agreement for your records. You and your employer must always follow the agreement. If you disagree about work details in the future, having a copy may help you.

Contact your local employment or labour standards office to learn more about employment contracts.

If you lose your job

In most cases, your employer needs to give you written notice before your last day of work or pay you for that time instead. This is called termination pay.

Your employer does not have to warn you when you are being let go for a “just cause.” For example, you can be let go for serious misconduct or missing work without a good reason.

If you have a contract for a specific period or a specific job, your employer does not have to give you notice when your contract ends.

The rules about notice of termination are also set by each province and territory.

If your employer does not follow the law when they dismiss you, you can complain to the local employment or labour standards office. If you are covered by a union contract, you may have to make a formal complaint through the union instead.


Your employer does not have to give you a place to live unless you are a temporary farm worker in the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program.

If you are given room and board, your employer may take part of the cost from your pay. In most provinces, the amount they can charge for meals and board is limited. All pay deductions must be noted in your contract.

Health and safety

All workers in Canada have the right to a safe and healthy workplace. There are laws to protect workers from danger.

Provincial, territorial and federal governments each have their own laws and ways of looking into health and safety matters.

Is your work safe?

To help you decide if your workplace is safe, ask yourself:

To report an unsafe workplace, contact your local employment or labour standards office.

Refusing dangerous work

Your employer cannot force you to do work that’s dangerous. Your employer must look into any danger that’s reported in the workplace. You have the right to refuse to do the work until

If you get sick or hurt at work

Tell your supervisor as soon as possible and get medical attention. Your employer must give you access to a health care provider (like a doctor, nurse or pharmacist) by, for example

You can speak privately with a health care provider, without your employer.

Most provinces and territories provide workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation plans give you help (medical or wage benefits) if you are hurt on the job or if your job causes you to get sick. Your employer is not allowed to take any money from your pay for these plans.

In some provinces and territories, employers don’t need to offer you workers’ compensation benefits. If so, this must be clearly written in your employment contract.

Contact your local employment or labour standards office to learn more about workers’ compensation benefits.

Farm workers’ rights

Some farm workers in Canada have special rights under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program.

Report abuse

If you suspect that your employer has not been respecting your rights as a temporary foreign worker or has been misusing the program, report it to us.

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.

Employment standards in Canada

Contact the employment standards branch in the province or territory where you work unless you work for a federally regulated businesses or industry. In that case, you should contact the Federal Labour Program.

Federal Labour Program

Employment and Social Development Canada
Federal Labour Standards
Toll Free: 1-800-641-4049

If you do not work for a federally regulated business or industry, the employment standards that regulate your conditions of work are likely covered by a provincial or territorial employment standards office found below.


Employment Standards Branch
Toll free: 1-877-427-3731
Fax: (780) 422-4349
TDD/TDY: 780-427-9999 (in Edmonton)

British Columbia

Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour
Employment Standards Branch
Toll free: 1-833-236-3700
Outside British Columbia: (250) 612-4100


Manitoba Labour and Immigration
Employment Standards
Telephone: (204) 945-3352 (Winnipeg)
Toll free: 1-800-821-4307 (outside Winnipeg)
Fax: (204) 948-3046

New Brunswick

Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour
Employment Standards Branch
Telephone: (506) 453-2725 (Fredericton or outside New Brunswick)
Toll free: 1-888-452-2687

Newfoundland and Labrador

Advanced Education, Skills and Labour
Labour Standards Division
Telephone: (709) 729-2743/729-2742
Toll free: 1-877-563-1063

Northwest Territories

Education, Culture and Employment
Employment Standards
Telephone: (867) 767-9351 option 3
Toll free: 1-888-700-5707
Fax: (867) 873-0483

Nova Scotia

Labour and Advanced Education
Labour Standards Division
Telephone: (902) 424-4311
Toll free: 1-888-315-0110
Fax: (902) 424-0648


Department of Justice
Labour Standards Office
Telephone: (867) 975-7293
Toll Free: 1-877-806-8402
Fax: (867) 975-7294
(Note: minimal information on website)


Ministry of Labour
Employment Standards Branch
Telephone: (416) 326-7160 (Greater Toronto Area)
Toll free: 1-800-531-5551
TTY: 1-866-567-8893

Prince Edward Island

Communities, Cultural Affairs and Labour
Employment Standards Branch
Telephone: (902) 368-5552
Toll-free: 1-800-333-4360
Fax: (902) 368-5476


Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST)
Toll free: 1-844-838-0808


Advanced Education, Employment and Labour
Labour Standards
Telephone: (306) 787-2438 (Regina)
Toll free: 1-800-667-1783
Fax: (306) 787-4780 (Regina)


Department of Community Services
Employment Standards Branch
Telephone: (867) 667-5944
Toll free: 1-800-661-0408, extension 5944

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