Canada announces open work permits for eligible immigrant workers experiencing employment abuse

by Marjorie Carmona Newman, ABS-CBN News

EDMONTON — Ed entered Canada on a work permit. He received a job offer for a full-time, 40 hours a week job at a farm.

But when he started working, he was surprised to find the work seasonal and the living conditions unacceptable. Ed however did not complain for fear of losing employment.

“…Naghaharvest kami ng ano kapag maulan or hindi maganda ang panahon masyadong mahangin masyadong mainit hindi pwede kasi ah hindi magandang magharvest so wala kaming pasok at walang pasok walang sweldo. Pagkatapos na po ah nasa ano na kami nasa camp nasa gitna kami ng bush…”

After five years, he left and found another employer who wanted him to start working even without the legal work documents.

“…Desperado na akong makahanap ng ano ng employer talagang kailangan ko ng makahanap ng employer dahil patapos na rin yun temporary ko yun po ah may nagalok sa akin ng ganun na oh sige ipaprocess namin ang papel mo pero habang pinaprocess namin yun papel mo pumasok ka muna sa amin at nung mga time na yun talagang busy sa kanila dahil naglilipat sila ng ano eh ng shop so lumipat sila ng shop napakarami namin trabaho pumapasok ako dun walang day off pati linggo pumapasok…”

Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) recently announced open work permits for vulnerable workers like Ed.

Open work permits may now be issued to foreign nationals experiencing abuse, or at risk of abuse, in the context of employment in Canada.

Eligible applicants are also exempt from paying the work permit processing fee.

IRCC also announced that starting July 26, newcomers experiencing family violence will be able to apply for a fee-exempt temporary resident permit that will give them legal immigration status in Canada, and includes a work permit and health care coverage.

They are also expediting the process for those in urgent situations of family violence who applied for permanent residence under the humanitarian and compassionate considerations.

“Maganda po kasi maraming pong mga ganun kaso eh ah tulad po din samin dati na pinasokan ko na sa farm.

According to IRCC, there have been 160 employers found non-compliant and received monetary penalty and or ban from hiring foreign workers.

Those cases that involved potentially criminal behavior were referred to the Canadian Border Services or CBSA or the appropriate police force.

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