New Act introduced to “protect” Canadian foreign workers by denying work permits

Protecting “vulnerable” Canadian foreign workers

On Friday, the Canadian government unveiled Bill C-56, the Preventing Trafficking, Abuse and Exploitation of Vulnerable Immigrants Act, which amends some of Canada’s immigration laws to prevent the exploitation or trafficking of Canadian foreign workers. “Vulnerable” immigrants, according to the act, could be anyone working in a field where there is a danger of abuse or exploitation, and exotic dancing was used as an example in the announcement.

“Low-skilled laborers and women brought into Canada to work as exotic dancers are particularly at risk,” said Joy Smith, an MP making the announcement on behalf of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney.

The Minister of Public Works and Government Services and the Minister for the Status of Women, Rona Ambrose, was also on hand for the announcement.

“This legislation will introduce important legislative changes to help up close the doors to the dangerous victimization of girls and women, and we urge Parliament to join us in this serious matter and support the Bill,” Ambrose said.

New Act gives officers power to deny Canadian foreign work permits

The new act gives immigration officers the authority to deny work permits to Canadian foreign workers who are being sent to Canada to work in humiliating and degrading situations or who are trafficked into Canada.

Currently, the Immigration and Refugee protection Act reads: “A foreign national may not work or study in Canada unless authorized to do so under this Act.”

If this law is passed, several more things will be added such as that if it is in the officer’s “opinion” that “public policy considerations” make it justified to deny a work permit, it can happen.

The act does not specify anything other than protecting Canadian foreign workers from humiliating or degrading treatment including sexual exploitation. There is currently no definition of any of these things available.

Little justification for Canadian Foreign Worker Permit Denial

Under the Act, officers will have to find another officer to agree with them when denying a Canadian foreign worker permit, but with little definition as to what is considered “degrading or humiliating”, that might not be too difficult. The Act is also not clear on what, if anything, would happen to the employers that create these degrading and humiliating decisions. This act will protect some, but is too broad when giving immigration officers the authority to deny permits to Canadian foreign workers.

Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

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