Farmworkers plant beans in the Fraser Valley. (Black Press files)

New rules introduced to protect B.C. foreign workers from exploitation

More than 16,000 temporary permits issued last year

The B.C. government has introduced new rules to require foreign worker recruiters to be licensed and audited, to prevent them from violating work hours, withholding pay and other abuses.

Labour Minister Harry Bains introduced the Temporary Foreign Worker Protection Act on Tuesday, providing for fines or jail sentences of up to a year if employers charge fees for job placements, hold a worker’s passport, misrepresent job opportunities or otherwise abuse workers.

“If you have paid thousands to get here for a job, if you and your family’s financial well-being depends on it, if you don’t know our laws extend to all workers, including temporary foreign workers, or if you don’t have the language skills to ask for help and are afraid of repercussions if you do, you remain in those unjust situations that should never exist,” Bains said at a legislature ceremony.

RELATED: Fire displaces dozens of B.C. farmworkers

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Last year the federal immigration department issued more than 47,000 temporary foreign worker permits, with nearly 17,000 workers coming to B.C. for seasonal farm work and other jobs that it considers unlikely to be filled domestically.

Bains said temporary workers can be found in orchards, restaurants, retail and service businesses, construction and hotel, salons and other workplaces. He said most employers are fair, but there are others who need enforcement to protect employees.


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