Islanders invited to weigh in on new legislation protecting temporary foreign workers

·2 min read

The Prince Edward Island government is looking for input on a proposed Temporary Foreign Worker Protection Act, after calls the last few years to create additional protections for TFWs.

The federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program allows employers to hire foreign workers to fill temporary jobs when qualified Canadians are not available. In P.E.I., many of those jobs are in the agriculture and fisheries sectors.

The legislation would allow the government to do things like recover illegal fees charged to workers, and impose penalties for employers who violate the legislation.

"This just adds a new level of protection for those most vulnerable workers who could be subject to certain abuses that other workers may not experience," said Patricia McPhail, director of labour and industrial relations with the province.

"There's things like employers or recruiters charging inappropriate fees for recruiting temporary foreign workers for work in the province. In addition to that, there's proposed rules around providing these temporary foreign workers with contracts and information about their rights in the language that they speak."

Important to economy

The province says the economy relies on TFWs.

Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC
Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC

"Temporary foreign workers play a very important role in helping address the labour shortage," said Minister of Economic Growth Matthew MacKay in a written release Friday.

"It's our responsibility as government and Islanders to ensure temporary foreign workers are safe and have a positive work experience as they contribute to the success of our province."

Feedback on the proposal will be accepted through the province's website until Feb. 12. Officials hope to receive feedback from employers, organizations and the general public, McPhail said.

If the legislation is passed, officials said it will likely be another year before the act could become law.

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