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Guidance for Employers of Temporary Foreign Workers | COVID-19

Temporary Foreign Worker Program 2020

Shortly after announcing travel restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Immigration Canada issued a list of travellers exempt from these restrictions. Included in this list are Temporary Foreign Workers.

All Temporary Foreign Workers are exempt from travel restrictions and can travel to Canada by air or land. This exemption is in effect now.

Temporary Foreign Workers Travelling to Canada

It’s important to note that Temporary Foreign Workers are still required to adhere to the travel obligations in place for all travellers entering Canada.

  • If you’re travelling by air, you need to pass a health check conducted by airlines before you’re allowed to board your flight.

    • Note: Anyone who shows symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to enter Canada by air.

  • When you arrive in Canada, your health will be assessed before you leave the port of entry. You must isolate for 14 days, even if you have no symptoms. This is mandatory.

  • Only people who provide essential services and truck drivers who regularly cross the border to maintain the flow of goods are exempt from the isolation requirements.

Employers of Temporary Foreign Workers

Employers have an important role to play in helping to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19. Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) offered some tips for employers.

  1. The worker’s period of employment is intended to begin upon their arrival to Canada, and include the self-isolation period.

  2. The employer must pay the worker regular pay and benefits for the self-isolation period. Specifically, for workers in the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program.

    1. For other workers, the employer must pay the worker for a minimum of 30 hours per week at the rate of pay specified on the Labour Market Impact Assessment.

    2. The employer can withhold standard contract deductions (e.g. Employment Insurance, housing, transportation, etc.) as per applicable Program stream requirements.

    3. The employer is not allowed to deduct any additional amounts due to the self-isolation period. Proof of wages paid should be kept.

  3. The employer cannot authorize the worker to work during the self-isolation period, even if requested by the worker, with the exception of those deemed as providing an essential service by the Chief Public Health Officer. The employer also cannot ask the worker to perform other duties during that period, such as building repairs or administrative tasks.

  4. The employer is responsible for regularly monitoring the health of workers who are self-isolating, as well as any employee who becomes sick after the self- isolation period.

    1. The employer should communicate with the worker on a daily basis (e.g. call, text, email, or in-person two metres away if no other option is available) during the self-isolation period and ask if he/she is experiencing any symptoms, and maintain a record of responses received.

  5. If a worker becomes symptomatic at any time, the employer must immediately arrange for the worker to be fully isolated from others and contact local public health officials. The employer should also contact the appropriate consulate.

  6. The employer must ensure that all workers have the tools needed to practice good hygiene. This includes access to facilities that enable them to wash their hands often with soap and warm water, providing soap, and providing an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available and hands are not visibly soiled.

  7. The employer is asked to provide information to the worker on COVID-19 either on or before their first day of self-isolation. With a view to promoting understanding by all workers, it is suggested that information be provided in a language the worker understands, and that consideration be given to providing this information in writing and/or orally (e.g. by phone, etc.), as appropriate.

  8. Like all Canadians, the employer is asked to report a violation to the Quarantine Act on the part of a self-isolating worker to local law enforcement. This includes workers that do not respect the mandatory self-isolation period.

Throughout the course of the pandemic, all people in Canada, including employers, are expected to follow the latest public health requirements and/or guidance from the Government of Canada and the province/territory in which they operate.

In addition, employers are required to follow all applicable federal and provincial/territorial employment and health and safety laws. This includes new provisions in several jurisdictions for job-protected sick leave as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Employers who Provide Accommodations for Temporary Foreign Workers

There are additional criteria for employers who provide accommodations for temporary foreign workers.

  1. The employer must house self-isolating workers in accommodations that are separate from those not subject to self-isolation. This may require finding alternate accommodations (e.g. hotel) if this requirement cannot be met.

  2. The employer can house workers who are subject to self-isolation together, but the housing must enable them to be two metres apart from each other at all times.

    1. For example, beds must be at least two metres apart. Shared facilities (e.g. bathroom, kitchen, living space) are allowed, provided that there is sufficient space in the accommodations for workers to respect the self-isolation requirements.

    2. If this requirement cannot be met, alternate accommodations (e.g. hotel) may be required.

    3. It is recommended that date-stamped photos be taken of the facilities, including the bedroom, to demonstrate compliance.

    4. Note: If new workers are housed for self-isolation in the same accommodations as others who are self-isolating, the clock resets to the day the most recent worker arrived. This is to account for the potential exposure of the new person from outside of the country to those already here.

  3. The employer should ensure that surfaces in the accommodations are cleaned and disinfected regularly. Surfaces in bathrooms, kitchens and common areas should be cleaned and disinfected daily, or more often as required, and that a log be maintained. Workers can do this, as it constitutes essential care. The employer is expected to provide the cleaning materials (e.g. paper towels, household cleaning and disinfection products, dish soap and laundry soap).

  4. The employer is asked to post information about preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the accommodations, including information that outlines best practices for workers in maintaining bathroom and other washing facilities. It is suggested that such information be posted in bathrooms, kitchens and common areas and that it be posted in the language of the worker.

  5. For the duration of the self-isolation period, the employer must ensure that the accommodations do not prevent the worker from avoiding contact with older adults (65+) and those with medical conditions who are at risk of developing a serious illness.

    1. For example, a caregiver to an elderly person must be housed in separate accommodations for the duration of the self-isolation period.

For more information, you may find these pages helpful:

Our Services

Calver and Associates is a leading provider of Canadian Immigration services in Durham Region. We serve clients in Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, and beyond. Our Registered Canadian Immigration Consultant has over 10 years of experience in Canadian Immigration law and over four years of experience serving those in the Oshawa area.

We can provide assistance with applications for both temporary and permanent residency in Canada. We handle applications for study permits, permanent residency, family class sponsorship, visitor visas, work permits, and Canadian citizenship. We also handle criminal inadmissibility cases by developing remedies for refusal.

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